BEACHES TAKE A TOLL

By: Mesa Messenger Editorial Staff

Every piece of plastic that has entered our oceans still exists. And with spring break coming up, it is important that beach goers realize how badly our oceans get polluted.

Thousands of people flock to the beaches around the world to party and have a good time. This is not the problem; the problem is that when the week comes to an end and everyone returns back home, all their trash stays on the beaches.

This trash is quickly swept into the ocean to hopefully decompose someday. The trash that doesn’t ever decompose is what has scientists worried.

One of the worst types of pollution comes from our miss-use of plastic containers. Our culture has become so dependent on plastic, which causes a huge problem to our environment.

It has now reached the point of no return; the U.S. simply cannot live without the use of plastic containers. Just to clarify obviously the need for plastic is always going to be there, it’s the lack of recycling that gives plastic a bad name.

Today Americans throw away around 35 millions tons of plastic each year, but only 25 percent of that is correctly recycled. This leaves another 8 million tons that end up in the oceans every year! These numbers needs to improve quickly considering the monstrous amount of plastic that gets consumed.

Another reason plastic has such a bad reputation has to do with how it’s made. According to Live Science, most plastic is manufactured from petroleum. A crucial manufacturing step turns petroleum into a material unrecognized by the organisms that normally break organic matter down. The microorganisms that turn an apple brown don’t recognize the plastic, which means that it can never truly decompose.

Instead the plastic goes through a different process that involves the sun light breaking it up into millions of tiny pieces. These plastic micro fragments are easily ingested by all marine animals, which eventually cause serious health problems.

Within the last year a research study was conducted to find some very shocking evidence. For the first time in history micro-plastics were discovered in deep-sea animals including hermit crabs and lobsters. Its scary to think that animals living 6000 feet below the surface are getting affected by plastic, let alone the thought of the animals living along the coast.

One of bigger concerns is eliminating the small, single-use water bottles. A shocking statistic states that in the next hour Americans will use and throw away roughly 2.5 millions water bottles, with over half only being used once. And what’s even scarier is that in thousand years from now every one of those will still exist (PlantingPeace.org).

One solution to the problem is attempting to create a biodegradable form of plastic. This plastic would be made differently, with components that allow for decomposition.

Biodegradable plastic only takes three to six months to decay, which is a vast improvement from the hundreds of years traditional plastic usually takes. This solution is slow to catch on because of how expensive it is to construct.

But considering how much of a negative impact plastic is causing the oceans, it is sure something that will need to get looked into with more depth.

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