A Plastic Ocean

July 20, 2017

The problem of plastics in our world, and particularly in our oceans, is not a new one. We have been alerted to what it does to sea life, and we are all now aware of the hazards of BPA. But, the problem is so much worse than many of us think.

A Plastic Ocean is a depressing documentary that highlights the very real problem of plastic in the ocean and what it is doing do us. Although I consider myself fairly well-versed in eco-news (most of it bad), I learned quite a bit of sobering information:

  • There are little bits (and huge bits) of plastics all over the world’s oceans – literally in every corner of the world. The plastic never breaks down – it really only ever breaks up.
  • Plastic bottles and waste of every kind can be found on the ocean floor absolutely everywhere. It is disgusting to see beautiful photos and videos of ocean life, and then see mounds of plastic bottles everywhere.
  • Watching sea animals literally die right in front of camermapersons, and painfully, is horrifying. Fish, whales, birds, you name it – the plastics get into their bellies and they die right there when the plastics suffocate them, or worse. Many seabirds are then dissected and scientists often find 200+ pieces of plastic in their bellies.
  • Watching sea life struggle in pieces of plastic and painfully try to free themselves in reefs and so forth is horrifying. Even worse is looking at animals who have plastics literally cutting their bodies. It’s not like they can grab a pair of scissors and cut the plastic off.
  • Many countries around the world, especially Island nations in the Pacific, are practically drowning in our waste as it washes up on the shores and pollutes the waterways. People in these areas die from cancer at alarming rates.

What is particularly disturbing about this plastic waste is what it does to poorer countries. Watching people, particularly children, wade around in plastic waste at the shorelines is disturbing to say the least. Realizing that many countries don’t have waste facilities, meaning that all waste (plastics and everything else) are simply dumped into the ocean is heartbreaking.

There is some good news. The American Navy is currently using something called a “PyroGenesis” on aircraft carriers to get rid of all waste in an eco-friendly machine. It was really neat to watch and the idea would be to use these fancy machines in places like the Pacific Islands and Haiti where people are literally drowning in plastic (and other) waste. Of course, there would need to be funding for that sort of thing – and people who actually care about helping the world to get it done.

Obviously, we as consumers need to continue to demand that products are made in an environmentally-friendly way. Plant-based, compostable plastics already exist. But, companies aren’t making them. Recycling should be obvious, but it’s expensive and inconvenient. We need to continue to insist that companies recycle, and that we ourselves continue to recycle and demand that our communities participate in recycling programs. We also have to be willing to contribute to paying for such programs in our tax assessments.

Real change takes place when people insist on it. The time to take a stand is now.

Psalm 95:5 (NRSV): The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io

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