How Plastic Affects Marine Life

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Plastics Affects the Marine Lifestyle

By Emma Goularte

     As of 2018, the world has produced 260 million tons of plastic. According to Greenpeace report, 10 percent of the 260 million tons end up in the ocean. That is 26 million tons of plastic that goes and effects the lives of marine life. According to Plymouth University, plastic affects at least 700 marine species and the Turtle Conservancy says at least 100 million marine mammals are killed each year from plastic pollution. We produce 260 million tons of plastic but only 60 million tons of plastic bottles end up in landfills, that means 200 million tons end up somewhere else.Plastic doesn’t ever go away, it isn’t biodegradable but breaks into smaller particles called microplastics. Microplastic, small pieces of plastic, are just as harmful to the environment because they never break down and they are indigestible for animals and us.

     Even though you can’t control what everyone else does with their plastic, you can still do  your part to help the environment. Using reusable cups, straws, silverware, and containers is the first big step because it eliminates the use of plastic products. Recycling properly is also just as important because only 9% of plastic is recycled worldwide. You can also help out in other ways by taking part in coastal clean up and bringing your own shopping bags.

     According to NBC News, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a vortex halfway between California and Hawaii full of tangles fishing nets, bottles, bags, and other plastic items.  It covers three times the size of France and holds at least 79,000 tons of plastic. The garbage affects marine life such as turtles, dolphins, and whales the most because they are bigger animals that go up to the surface. The cause of the deaths of the animals are eating the garbage or getting entangled. The Ocean Cleanup formed an idea to eliminate the garbage patch to help marine life and the huge danger the Great Pacific Garbage Patch creates towards animals. If the marine animals eat the plastic, their body tries to break it down but it ends up killing them instead. Sometimes we kill the animals, such as fish, for food and the plastic they ate ends up being harmful to us. To prevent the garbage patch “floating screens,” which are floating nets held up by pontoons, trap the garbage until a boat comes by to collect it.

     The floating screen is the first big idea to help marine life and to fix the plastic problem. The little thing matter when it comes to eliminating plastic. Work on what you can control which is your plastic use. If you take away your use of plastic and can make a difference, imagine if the 7 billion people in the world stopped using plastic or recycled properly, less animals will be killed by plastic and garbage that gets in the ocean and we won’t eat toxic plastic particles when we eat seafood.

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