Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Our Plastic Problem

Would you believe me when I say that the amount of plastic we dump into our oceans each year could stretch halfway to mars? according to the journal Science, humans release between 5.3 million and 14 million tons of plastic into the ocean annually.

To put this into perspective, nine million tons of plastic is equivalent to 136 billion plastic milk jugs which, if you stack on top of each other, can reach halfway to our red planetary neighbor. Nine million jugs is also equivalent to piling five grocery bags full of plastic on every foot of coastline in the world, according to onEarth.org. The figure below shows the figures of plastic from land into the ocean.
One thing that is clear is that there is way to much plastic going into the ocean every year. The same research from the journal Science also discovered the origins of the pollution from the land. According to the study, Asia is the most prolific of polluters, creating an estimated 63% of the plastic released into the oceans annually. China creates more than a quarter of the world's oceangoing plastic, making it the worlds worst polluter. The United States is 20th on the list, but the U.S. is also the only fully developed economy in the top 20. 

According to the NRDC, the United States only recycles 14% of plastic packaging, leaving substantial room for improvement. This leaves an effect on both the environment and the economy. besides the plastic going straight to the ocean and polluting it, "recyclable post-consumer packaging with an estimated value of $11.4 billion is landfilled in the U.S. annually instead of being recycled," says Darby Hoover, a senior resource specialist at NRDC. President Obama recent made a speech speaking to our generation saying that "we are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it." 

Every single one of us can make a difference. this could include creating less plastic in the first place, and the plastic that we do create should be recycled. The sea turtles, sea birds, and other marine animals would be very grateful for our efforts.

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