Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Letís end our addiction to plastic

   Searchers in the Indian Ocean have found a lot of debris. Sadly, it is not Malaysian Air’s missing Flight 370 but more proof that we use the earth’s seas as garbage dumps. It’s a practice that has to stop.
    Most of the time, ocean conservation attention focuses on the preservation of species. Overfishing turns out to be only a small part the problems with the ocean. The bigger threat to living oceans is the estimated 7 million tons of plastic floating not only on the top but deeper into the waters.
    Each of the world’s five oceans contains a large area known as a gyre, a system of rotating currents of wind and water. What is created is not an island as much as an ocean soup. More and more, a dangerous ingredient of that soup is our plastic. The Pacific gyre has been nicknamed the Pacific trash vortex. An ocean conservation group called 5 Gyres has discovered the same mix in the Atlantic and Indian oceans.
    “The problem is growing at an alarming rate,” according to Stiv Wilson, a 5 Gyres board member and former journalist. Plastic, it appears, is a bigger and more deadly pollution problem than oil spills.
    Looking at the enormity of environmental problems threatening the planet, it is easy to accept that what any individual does can have no real effect. There are those who argue we should not even try.
    “You’re not seeing car bumpers out there,” Wilson said. “It sounds trite, but really what’s needed is a grassroots effort to reduce our addiction to single-use plastics.” Single-use plastics are things like coffee cup lids, Taco Bell sporks and soda straws. Amazingly, these are the things that are killing our oceans.
    There are many environmental issues that will require public policy initiatives. Substituting renewable energy for carbon burning is a difficult transition for any household, much less entire economies.     When it comes to using the oceans as a garbage dump, each of us can make a difference. Change is often difficult but it is also empowering. We have come to depend on the convenience of plastic because we thought it made our lives better. We can change our plastic addiction now that we know that the price of convenience is just too high.

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