Save the Pacific

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When I think of the West, as we have been covering in class, I often think of California. Having spent a lot of time over a few Summers there, California, and in particular the Los Angeles and Santa Monica areas, it is very near and dear to my heart. I was not shocked, but very saddened to learn that recently California is experiencing problems with trash in the Pacific Ocean killing wildlife. The West is a place that people go to experience new and great things, and one of them should not be a polluted ocean.


According to environmentcalifornia.com, Californians throw away 123,000 tons of plastic bags each year, and many of them end up in the ocean. Today, there are 100 million tons of trash in the North Pacific Gyre, and in some parts of the Pacific, plastic outweighs plankton 6 to 1. This trash in the Pacific is creating an ecological disaster, according to Environment California. Turtles and sea birds often ingest the trash, thinking its food. They also get entangled in bags and often drown or die of suffocation. Toxic pollutants also leak from the plastic into the water. Scientists are now studying whether fish and other marine life absorb these toxic pollutants. If so, there is a good chance that we also absorb them when we eat the products of the sea. 


The effects of this are being tackled at great lengths already, but it is imperative that everyone stand up to help make a change. Great progress in educating the public on the harmful effects of plastic has been made, and today, bags are banned, or soon will be banned, in 40 California communities. "It's a great start, but we're not stopping until we rid the whole state of plastic bag pollution," states Environment California.


With outside help, Environment California believes they can put a state wide ban on the plastic bags that are harming the ocean animals and in turn could also be harming those eating the fish from the ocean. By going to http://environmentcalifornia.org/programs/keep-plastic-out-pacific and clicking on the "help protect ocean wildlife"tab on the right hand side, you personally can send Governor Jerry Brown to support a statewide ban on plastic bags. More information and ways to help out are also available on the cite. Though you may not live on the West Coast, it is still important to help support the movement as someday the issue could effect you as well. Do your part and help save the wildlife in the Pacific Ocean!

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References:

"Keep Plastic out of the Pacific."Environment California. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <http://environmentcalifornia.org/programs/keep-plastic-out-pacific>.


"The World's Biggest Landfill - Ocean Pollution - Oprah.com."Oprah.com. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <http://www.oprah.com/world/Ocean-Pollution-Fabien-Cousteaus-Warning-to-the-World>. 

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2 Comments

Unlike Jill, I have never been to the West Coast but I do have a love for the oceans. Unfortunately it does not surprise me to hear of the amount of plastic bags ending up in the Pacific. The statistic “in some parts of the Pacific, plastic outweighs plankton 6 to 1.” Is disgusting, there has to be an action we can take to better this situation. Certain cities across America have banned the use of plastic bags in stores, forcing patrons to bring their own reusable bags to carry home groceries. Over two dozen U.S. cities have joined the fight against plastic bags including Santa Monica, California. Things are beginning to look like they are changing for the better for sea life, California Grocers Association is on board to help make the dream of banning plastic bags statewide a reality. Care2 activists created a petition to have Austin, Texas join the many cities world wide banning these harmful plastic bags and they succeeded! Despite the devastating statistics, WE CAN make a difference NOW by doing something simple like starting a petition for other cities to join in on banning plastic bags—maybe our local town. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is incredibly upsetting; working together can stop its growth.
Fabien Cousteau devoted his life to raising awareness of the consequences plastic pollution has on wildlife says he does it because the creatures being effected cannot speak for themselves. The animals are ingesting this plastic, I was shocked to learn a cigarette lighter and other pieces of plastic were inside the stomach of one dead albatross. "The ocean belongs to all of us, but there's no single entity or no single nation that's there to protect it," Fabien says. "We need to be able to network and really all care about it and all protect the oceans."

To find more websites on how to Go Green for the Ocean and our future click here! http://www.oprah.com/world/Resources-to-Help-You-Go-Green

Works cited: http://www.care2.com/causes/care2-success-austin-bans-single-use-plastic-bags.html
http://www.oprah.com/world/Ocean-Pollution-Fabien-Cousteaus-Warning-to-the-World

I agree that plastic is a big problem in our society. It seems like everything is made of plastic, and plastic is forever. The Plastic Pollution Coalition is a global alliance of individuals, organizations and businesses working together to stop plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on humans, animals and the environment. They have various projects in the works including the promotion of plastic free campuses and towns. They even have a series on TEDx about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I think that another way that we can be hands on, and proactive about this problem by not only bringing reusable bags to the stores we shop in and signing petitions, but also to use reusable water bottles. I think one of the most startling facts on the Plastic Pollution Coalition's website is that “Every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists, except the small amount that has been incinerated, and has become a toxic air and particulate pollution.”

The other startling thing that I stumbled upon was that not all of the plastic that we think we are recycling is actually being recycled. Many of the recycling advertising is paid for by the plastic companies so that consumers will believe that plastics are not as harmful to the world and that they can be recycled so no worries about how much we use . . . wrong. From a different source I found the statistic that more than 2.4 billion pounds of plastic bottles were recycled in 2008. And, the amount of plastic bottles recycled in the U.S. has grown every year since 1990, but the actual recycling rate remains at around 27 percent. Scary thought. But, stop using plastic bottles! It's so easy, and recyclable bottles can be personalized to fit our personalities. Not to mention, Penn State has installed water bottle refilling stations.

Sources:
-Plastic Pollution Coalition: http://plasticpollutioncoalition.org/
-Seven Myths about Plastic and Plastic recycling: http://www.ecologycenter.org/ptf/misconceptions.html
-Plastic Recycling Facts: http://earth911.com/recycling/plastic/plastic-bottle-recycling-facts/

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