Heated issue

Competition Details

The Plastic Epidemic in our Oceans

by carol Sogard

To address the issue of Global Warming we must evaluate how we consume. The US relies on petroleum for the manufacturing of things consumers’ use and dispose of on a daily basis. This campaign addresses the production, use and disposal of plastic bags and bottles. It will communicate to consumers some basic facts about how plastic waste impacts ocean ecosystems.

Plastic will survive up to 1000 years in the landfill. Plastic will never biodegrade, rather it breaks up into tiny little pieces that attract deadly chemicals like DDT and PCBs. Although these chemicals were banned long ago in the U.S., they remain in the environment because of plastic’s molecular disposition. Because plastic will never disappear, unless it is incinerated, these tiny plastic bits float in the ocean for centuries. Larger pieces of plastic trash in the ocean are commonly mistaken for food and ingested by hundreds of thousands of sea mammals and seabirds annually.

The Eastern Garbage patch located in a gyre in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is just one of five high pressure zones in the oceans that have become massive wastelands that span 40% of the sea. This problem will continue to reach epidemic proportions given the amount of plastic we use and dispose of on a daily basis. There are approximately 300 million people currently living in the U.S. Just this year, Americans bought approximately 25 billion single serving plastic water bottles. Recycling cannot fix these over consumptive habits. We must reduce our plastic use.

Information sources: US EPA; reusablebags.com; treehugger.com; “Plague of Plastic Chokes the Seas” -Kenneth Weiss, LA Times; Algalita Marine Research Foundation