It’s late July and I’m walking along the Penfield Beach, plastic littering the water and sand. I think to myself why some neglect the recycling bins and trash cans that are provided to prevent this very problem. Wading in the water, I can pick up 3-5 pieces of plastic in just an arms reach. The beach is fairly clean in comparison to others, yet plastic still fills the waters. According to The Natural History Museum, “Between 5-12 tons of plastic enters the ocean each year!” Something must be done about this, we must preserve our beaches, and the oceans of the world.
Gov. Cuomo of New York, has announced that he will place a ban on plastic bags, joining California and almost all of Hawaii. Plastic bags are responsible for killing many sea creatures but most often, sea turtles. Sea turtles eat jellyfish that float in the waters, but often eat plastic bags on accident. Retail stores and even some major cities, like Washington and Chicago, have added a fee on plastic bags. Israel and Ireland have put a fee on single use plastic bags. After California’s ban on plastic bags and now New York’s, it is foreseeable that others will join.
To go deeper into why plastic affects our environment other than animals, plastic never breaks down. When plastic “breaks down” it really just breaks into tiny pieces and those break into smaller pieces until they become microplastics, less than 5 mm in length. This is devastatingly more dangerous than the big plastics because they cause unseen damage. The plastic releases toxic chemicals too while it is breaking down which contribute to the dangers of it. Some may say that nature can “take care of it” as it has been decomposing things for millions of years, plastic is built to endure erosion. According to Lucy Woodall, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford in the department of zoology, “Plastic that pollutes our waters come mainly from landfills, that end up polluting even the very bottom of the ocean.” This is significant because by finding the problem, landfills, we now know how to solve it.
In order to preserve our pristine beaches and oceans, we will have to join together and fight this long overdue war together. By using recycle bins and reusing or donating old items and toys, we can drastically reduce the amount of items put in landfills and keep plastic off the streets. We must raise awareness of this rising issue to those who neglect the recycle bins and warn them about how destructive it is to our environment. Let’s resolve this conflict, let’s end all plastic pollution together.