Plastic Endangers the Ocean
Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
In earlier days Americans used everything they produced and made things to last. Until the middle of the 20th Century the feeling was: “Waste not, want not.”
Now in the 21st Century – an age of global production on a mass scale – there’s an abundance of waste…especially plastics – the plastic products we buy and throw away, often after just a single use, and the plastic packages they come inside.
SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned that Californians use 600 plastic bags every second – using most of them just once before discarding them. And it’s not just in California. In the United States close to 400 billion plastic bags are used every year.
Many of these bags make their way into the ocean.
Add in all the plastic cups, straws and utensils, bottles, children’s toys, toothbrushes and more that float out to sea, and the ocean is becoming a plastic soup.
Worldwide there are over 45,000 pieces of plastic litter per square mile of ocean.
It’s gotten to the point that there are now six pieces of plastic to every plankton.
In Hawaii there’s even a “Plastic Beach”…where the “sand” is actually granules of plastic debris, broken up in the ocean and washed ashore.
SurfriderFoundation Huntington/Seal Beach Chapter Rise Above Plastics Chairperson Marilee Movius is committed to making our local beaches cleaner.
As part of October’s Rise Above Plastics Awareness Month…
Marilee worked with Surfrider Foundation partner sandal maker Teva on the 3rd annual One Foot at a Time beach cleanup event. People were asked to pick up trash one square-foot at a time…then recycle the trash into artworks. The best artworks won prizes from Teva.
Tony Soriano, Surfrider H/SB Chapter Chairperson, has seen firsthand the damage to the environment caused by plastics and another commonly used synthetic product – Styrofoam. He told SurfWriter Girls, “I’ve been documenting Styrofoam and its pollution issues for over ten years.”
Recently Tony and his nephew Ethan Soriano headed out for a day of surfing in Seal Beach. Ethan ended up surrounded by broken up pieces of Styrofoam here at our own “Styrofoam Beach” where the San Gabriel River runs out.
“There were blankets and blankets of Styrofoam floating in the river and the ocean that day,” said Tony.
British yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen, who was in the news last spring for sailing solo from Melbourne, Australia, to Osaka, Japan, said he saw plastic floating everywhere – bottles, bags, every kind of item imaginable. ..forks and spoons, children’s toys, lounge chairs.
What he didn’t see was hardly any living things. The fish and birds that should have been there were gone. On a similar voyage he made a decade earlier, the ocean was teeming with fish and flocks of birds were flying overhead, hoping to snag one for dinner. Now there was nothing.
“The ocean is broken,” said Macfadyen, saddened by all the trash and plastics that he saw on his 28-day journey.
To restore life to the sea and make our beaches clean again it’s time to join forces to Rise Above Plastics.
Here’s what we can do:
Follow the “4 Rs”
Refuse – Just say “No” to single-use plastics. Carry a reusable metal water bottle when you’re on the go and bring your own cloth bag for shopping.
Reduce – Cut back on unnecessary straws and lids and excess packaging materials.
Reuse – Don’t just use and toss items after one time when you can use them again or give them to someone else who needs them.
Recycle – Get in the habit of disposing of plastics in recycling bins or at recycling centers.
And come join Surfrider’s volunteers at a beach cleanup!
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