What about the oceans?

Our oceans are in trouble.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – an area of floating plastic 3 times the size of France.

Plastic debris poses a significant threat to the health of our oceans. Plastic trash in or around marine environments can strangle animals or starve them by clogging their stomachs (leaving no room for real food). Sea turtles can be found consuming floating plastic bags after mistaking them for jellyfish and birds have been found dead with stomachs full of plastic.

Plastic never biodegrades, but it does get broken down into tiny pieces called microplastics. Microplastics are extremely difficult to clean up and are associated with a host of environmental toxins that can have detrimental effects on the health of humans and wildlife. These toxins include heavy metals, pesticides, and hormone disrupters.

Plastics are even starting to make their way into the seafood we consume. According to a study done on fish and shellfish sold at market in California and Indonesia, about 25% of the fish were contaminated with either plastics or textile fibers (Nature News). When animals consume microplastics, toxins begin to bioaccumulate in their bodies. And when predators consume a copious amount of their prey, these toxins become more concentrated until they reach humans. We call this biomagnification.

The Solution

So how do we mitigate the effects of plastic ocean pollution and keep the problem from getting worse? The zero waste strategy is the only feasible and effective solution to stopping this problem at its source. Unlike recycling, zero waste requires no extra energy or resource use. It requires creativity and a change of mindset. So think twice before buying that plastic water bottle and consider a more sustainable solution!

© 2018 by Summer Robinson

For more information on zero waste or to get involved with Solid Green Student Club at Clemson University, please contact Summer Robinson at (864) 760-2808 or slr2@g.clemson.edu.

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