Plastic – Consuming Our World One Bottle at a Time


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By Paige Mathieu

Plastic is constantly used by Americans throughout the United States.  Not only are landfills consumed by this plastic, but the oceans are, as well.  In fact, there is an island in the Pacific Ocean dedicated to this hazardous material.

After people place their plastic water bottles or toothbrushes in the trash, their plastic is thrown into the ocean.  Every minute, one garbage truck filled with plastic is dumped into the ocean, adding up to 8 million tons of plastic a year.  The plastic in your toothbrush is not biodegradable, so instead of disappearing, the plastic simply breaks down into smaller particles known as microplastics.  Fish then make the mistake that these microplastics are their normal diet, plankton.  Before long, the fish is placed on someone’s plate, and they are now eating their toothbrush for dinner.

Hawaiian Monk Seals, an endangered species, are also consuming these microplastics.  Although, scientists cannot do a full study on the effect of these microplastics, they know that these seals are eating a large amount of microplastics.  These plastics are consumed by the Hawaiian Monk Seals that eat a fish that eat the microplastics.

Birds called the Laysan Albatross also live on the island in the Pacific Ocean that is cluttered with plastics.  These birds often mistake plastics for their normal diet.  The plastic makes the Laysan Albatross feel full, and they end up dying from malnutrition.

If people continue to use plastic and throw it into the ocean like they do today, in thirty-four years there will be more tons of plastic in the ocean than tons of fish.  Not to mention that people will eventually be consuming more plastic than they think they are. To prevent this from happening, people need to consider using reusable water bottles and recycling any plastic that is recyclable, instead of simply placing the water bottle into the trash because it is closer than the recycling bin is.  Saving the world can be done in many different ways and reducing plastic is just one of them.

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