It’s hard to conceptualize just how much plastic pollution humans have generated and thrown away. To answer simply, it’s a lot.
Marine pollution, especially plastic, has been dumped and thrown away into the earth’s oceans for decades. Unfortunately, the problem is only getting worse. Garbage has accumulated into what is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, otherwise known as the Pacific Trash Vortex. The entire patch is trapped in the Pacific Ocean under the forces of wind patterns and currents. The entire sum of the vortex is 1.6 million square kilometers, more than twice the size of Texas, and holds roughly 80,000 metric tons of garbage.
This paints an ugly picture. Even though the information is alarming, what’s especially concerning is that most plastic waste in the ocean is not visual to the human eye, unlike the trash vortex. It’s commonly known that most plastics are not biodegradable. Instead of breaking down safely into the environment, plastics wear down into smaller pieces. These smaller pieces are referred to as “microplastics.” Even though they are not necessarily visible, they wreak havoc on marine ecosystems. In addition to this, National Geographic reports, “…about 70% of marine debris actually sinks to the bottom of the ocean.”
Even though this problem seems impossible for one person to address, that’s not true. In fact, there are easy and inexpensive ways for students on campus to reduce their plastic footprint. For example, the student center refills reusable coffee cups for only 99 cents. This is an excellent money-saver for coffee fiends on a budget.
Additionally, investing in a quality water bottle can result in serious savings. If a bottle of Dasani costs $1.29, then buying a bottle five days a week will cut almost $6.50 from one’s meal plan. Buying one every day of the semester will cost a whopping $96.75.
Choosing sustainable options not only saves the planet, but it also saves your wallet. These are some of the things we discuss in The Environmental Club. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to discuss some rad sustainability ideas you may have.