How does Plastic Pollute the Marine Ecosystem?

How does Plastic Pollute the Marine Ecosystem?

A sea turtle surrounded by plastic shopping bags.

A sea turtle surrounded by plastic shopping bags.

Maybe you’ve taken the pledge to stop using plastic water bottles and start using a reusable one. Maybe you’ve taken the time out of your day to separate plastics from your ordinary trash in order to recycle them. Or maybe you’ve even attempted to eliminate plastic from your life entirely. Give yourself a pat on the back because you should give yourself credit for these positive actions taken. While these are steps taken in the right direction, our planet still faces a huge issue at the global scale. We must ask ourselves: “How do we, as a human population, go about protecting our oceans and marine life from plastic pollution?”

Much of the human population lives a global disposable lifestyle. We think that simply throwing out a piece of plastic will have no real negative impact to any form of life. While this isn’t something to feel terribly guilty about, it is a red flag that we should deeply consider. It’s important to acknowledge that every action we take makes an impact on something or someone, whether it be small or large. This must be kept in mind when considering how we treat our physical environment in the present and in the future.

A Plastic Ocean, (2016) a new feature-length documentary coming out later this year, focuses on highlighting these exact issues that plastic pollution has placed on our planet’s oceans today. This documentary is designed to do what many other important environmental documentaries have intended to do. Their mission is to shift the public’s attitude on a certain environmental concern with the hopes of the drafting of new legislation to help improve these unfortunate conditions. You can view the trailer to this documentary below and learn more about the mission of the filmmakers here.

This documentary brings together a team of people from around the globe who all have the same goal in mind. They want to expose the brutal impact that plastics have on all sorts of marine life. This film will provide viewers with the harsh reality that plastics have on marine life and their habitats, as well as the potential negative impacts on human health.

Plastic waste has the ability to absorb toxic chemicals from pollutants in the ocean, such as plastic debris. This means that any marine life that consumes it can get chemical poisoning. Plastic is incredibly dangerous to the marine ecosystem. This is because it’s a material that doesn’t have the ability to decompose but instead, it breaks down into progressively smaller pieces, but never completely vanishes. It then starts to attract even more debris. This entire process poses a massive threat to the health of all creatures that live in the oceans.

Here are a few startling statistics to give you a better idea about the plastic industry:

-In the ocean, plastic is the number source of pollution.

-In the last 10 years, we have produced more plastic than we did during the entire last century.

-Almost all of the plastic we use in our daily lives is used only once and then disposed in the garbage.

-14% of all litter comes from beverage containers.

These facts show how plastic pollution has practically become a man-made global catastrophe. We want your help with this! Simply spread the word so more people can become greater aware of this issue and ways to help out. It’s important for us to recognize the severity of this issue and the actions we can do to strengthen conservation efforts!

So…

Do you think this documentary will create a cultural shift in the public’s perception towards the international issue of plastic pollution? How much of an impact do you think exposing the negative impacts plastics have on marine life will impact the public? In your own life, could you see yourself replacing disposable plastic water bottles with a reusable one? Lastly, ask yourself this, “What can I do to make the ocean a safer and cleaner place for everyone involved?”

Most importantly, let’s not forget: Marine wildlife aren’t creating these harmful environments that are negatively impacting them, they are human induced actions! We are the ones in control and the only ones who can reverse these negative impacts. It’s important for us to recognize the severity of this issue and the actions we can take to strengthen conservation efforts!

Written by: Hana Goldstein

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