Savannah Johnson

Professor Ramos

English 102

June 25, 2018

Plastic Soup

You make your way down to the beach on a hot summer day. You take a dive in the waves to recuperate from the heat. An uncomfortable tickle rises up your thigh, ‘A fish! A stingray! Eww seaweed!’ Actually, it was just a white plastic shopping bag making its way up to shore. The ocean is known for capturing trash, with plastic items a major constituent. Jenna Jambeck led a team to estimate how much different countries and territories generate trash that goes into the ocean and how much of that trash is plastic.  “The group reached a figure of 4.8 million to 12.7 million tonnes every year — very roughly equivalent to 500 billion plastic drinks bottles. But her estimate excluded the plastic that gets lost or dumped at sea, and all the plastic that is already there”(Cressey). This evidence supports that the ocean can become one giant refuse bin for all manner of plastics. Plastic does harm on ocean wildlife, polluting the environment, and blighting coastlines. Plastic production and pollution will continue to increase unless individuals set standards and targets for change.

First, if all these divergent waste goes into the ocean, how come its not visible when you go out deep into the sea? As the matter of fact a so-called trash island exists. A journalist named Thomas M. Kostigen was lucky enough to speak and write about Captain Charles Moore, who discovered an island called “The Eastern Garbage Patch”. He explains to Kostigen how the island isn’t solid mass of trash that you can substantially stand on, but more diffuse like “plastic soup”. But don’t for a second think that it’s mass isn’t substantial. It sprawl may cover an area as much as one and a half times? The size of the United States, Moore says, and to a depth of 100 feet, if not deeper (Kostigen 1). It may take several of years for debris to make it to the garbage patch, depending on its location, and not every piece of debris makes it to the island. Although all debris may not accumulate with the “Eastern Garbage Patch,” it is still harmful to the ocean animals, beaches, and sea floor.

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Second, plastic pollution doesn’t only hurt people and the economy view, it hurts ocean wildlife. Imagine taking a bite out of your seafood, thinking that the fish meat is freshly out of the ocean. In reality, that fish swallowed a bottle cap and cigarette lighters which produces chemicals inside the stomach. Plastic trash in the ocean and on beaches harms sea animals of every size, from microscopic organisms to large bags. “In the North Atlantic gyre, Proskurowski and his crew caught a fish that had 47 plastic fragments in its stomach. Other researchers recently reported that 35 percent of the lantern fish they caught in the North Pacific gyre had an average of two plastic pieces in their stomachs. Lantern fish are incredibly important because they’re the most common fish in the ocean”(Martinez). Have being said, 47 plastic fragments in one fish is insane and cruel. Start caring where you put your trash so it doesn’t end up being on your dinner plate.

Lastly, what can we do to stop plastic ocean pollution? While plastic undertakes a pros list, we can also enhance a pros list to reducing the use of disposing plastics and releasing plastics into the environment by simple actions like: recycle used plastic, avoiding plastic-bottled beverages by buying reusable cups, buying products that have the least or reusable packaging, buying reusable shopping bags, and buying used items (Wabnitz & Wallace). Yes, some trash gets blown away on accident but ordinary littering is substantial to change. Effortless actions lead to a big impact. It’s important to remember that every single person can have a positive influence on our oceans and environments.

We understand plastic is wonderful for its many reasons; durable, cheap, and lightweight. Plastic is used in many items from hairdryers, shoes, to the wrap around lunch sandwiches, there are so many companies that use plastic. The key problem with plastic however is that the majority of plastic that’s produced is used for disposable packaging items that are permanently discarded within a year of manufacture. Well over a billion single-use plastic bags are given out for free everyday (Casey). The thing with plastic is it will never go away, rather it gets into smaller and smaller pieces over time. Essentially, this means that every piece of plastic that has ever been put into circulation still exists and there is a very high chance that it is floating in the ocean.

What if plastic pollution increases? Twice as much harm on wildlife, polluting the environment, and blighting coastlines will occur. I, myself, have seen an abundance of plastic debris on some beaches. Seeing natural beauty being destroyed by trash is beyond dreadful. Only we humans are the one to blame, and only we humans are the ones to help decrease the pollution in the ocean. Together, we can do better and bring about a simpler life without polluting the beautiful ocean.

Annotated Bibliography

Casey, Susan. “Our Oceans Are Turning into Plastic… Are We?.” Best Life Magazine (February 20, 2007).

This article talks about how plastic is destroying the economy, whether its blighting a scenery or hurting animals. It also talked about the differences between past to present on pollution which was interesting to read. Susan Casey is an award winning journalist and editor, ocean lover, and a best selling author to two of her books. The reason why I chose this article was because I saw a couple sentences that would bring out my counterargument.

Cressey, Daniel. “The plastic ocean.” Nature 536.7616 (2016): 263-265.

This article talks a lot about what researchers have found and performed to get there answers. It concerned how much trash is out in the ocean but mostly the cause of the trash. The only information I got from Daniel Cressey was he’s written articles for ‘Genetic Literacy Project’. I will use this source to find estimations from statistics and researchers.

Kostigen, Thomas M., and From Discover Magazine. “The world’s largest dump: the great pacific garbage patch.” Discover Magazine (July 10, 2008), http://discovermagazine. com/2008/jul/10 theworldslargestdump (2008).

This article talks about a complication happening in today’s society with trash being a   justification: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s a island made of trash, in which Moore (whom discovered the island) talks about the detailed information and how he discovered it. The author, Thomas M. Kostigen, is a best-selling National Geographic author for many articles and books so I assume he is knowledgeable in geography. I will use this source to display the proof on how plastic/trash can damage the ocean.

Martinez, Amanda Rose. “Swirling seas of plastic trash.” Science News for Students (2011).

This article talks mainly about plastic trash in the ocean wrecking animals. There were researchers and tests based upon their association. Amanda Rose Martinez is a writer and journalist which has been published by many different agencies. I will use this article to establish the background on what plastic does to animals.

Wabnitz, Colette, and Wallace J. Nichols. “Plastic pollution: An ocean emergency.” Marine Turtle Newsletter 129 (2010): 1-4.

This article shows how plastic production and pollution affects the sea in multiple ways, including ocean wildlife. It indicates the hope and future of plastic in the ocean by setting a list of possible solutions. Colette Wabnitz is a marine scientist who is interested in understanding the functioning of ecosystems. Wallace J. Nichols is a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences. These both seem presentable in conversating and helping the economy. I will use this source to imply different solutions to the problem and to show the power to bring about change.