What is Plastic?
Plastic is a commonly used material composed of the elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, and sulfur. Most plastics are made from polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which is a material that is resistant to moisture. Unfortunately, most plastics made from PET are not able to be decomposed because specific bacteria can not break it down. The only thing that can be utilized to break down plastic is ultraviolet radiation that comes from the sun, but this takes too long. Therefore, the plastic remains polluting the environment. Many plastic items are one-time usage and simply thrown out when finished, and often times they end up in the oceans and pollute these bodies of water. Plastic pollution in oceans is truly detrimental from several aspects and has to be prohibited.
Plastic Entangles Ocean Creatures
There are many plastic pollutants that find their way into the paths of a plethora of ocean creatures. Large animals such as whales, dolphins, and seals can become stuck in plastic items such as plastic grocery bags that inhibit their movement. This affects their health and life because they are unable to move swiftly and catch their prey as food and, they are also at risk of becoming food for other animals due to their inability to move. Additionally, this entanglement can cause cuts or flesh wounds in attempts to escape, which further harms the animals. Smaller animals such as fish also become entangled and can die if the plastic is too heavy or if it constricts their movement too much in a similar manner.
Plastic is Toxic to Ocean Creatures
Not only is entanglement a significant issue with plastic pollution in oceans, but many ocean creatures also eat plastic in mistake for their food, which also harms them on a wide scale. The animals cannot distinguish between their food and the plastic, which causes many problems for their diet and health. For example, in the case of sea turtles, the plastic is likely to get stuck in their mouth causing them to choke, or in the case where they swallow it, the turtles die of starvation due to the fact that they believe they are full but have only ingested the plastic that is detrimental to their health and wellbeing. Not only in-ocean animals, but seagulls also suffer from this plastic ingestion in a similar manner, which causes them to perish as well. The toxicities of plastic on ocean creatures outweigh the benefits, and the detrimental effects on these magnificent animals is a high price to pay.
How to Help Plastic Pollution in Oceans
There are easy ways to stop plastic pollution in oceans that cause these problems and many more. Although many of the items we use on a daily basis are composed of plastic, the usage can still be limited, and proper disposal is encouraged. For example, plastic grocery bags can be replaced with reusable cloth bags to avoid excess plastic usage. Additionally, plastic straws can be replaced with reusable metal straws. Taking the first step by changing your habits can make a massive difference in the future. For a larger scale difference, it is easy to join or even start your own beach clean-up for your local ocean in order to work together as a community and clean the pollutants out of the water. It not only promotes teamwork, collaboration, and unity, but also works towards a positive change in society. It is about you taking the first step to a better and plastic-free tomorrow.