Statement of Topic
The topic for this research is “Plastics in the World as an Ocean Problem.” I chose this topic because it examines an emerging issue. Plastics have been a major challenge in oceans, jeopardizing the lives of ocean creatures. The pollution has propelled many creatures to die, an aspect that may lead to the extinction of various species. By exploring the topic, I will come up with ways of reducing the impact of plastics in oceans.
Plastics in the World as an Ocean Problem
In recent times, plastics in the world have become a major ocean issue. People are turning the beautiful oceans into a plastic contaminated body. According to Avio, Gorbi, and Regoli, (2017), a large number of tones of plastics find their way to the ocean, and in the near future, the number of plastics will exceed that of fish. The increment of plastic quantity in the seas can be attributed to people’s plastic addiction and waste mismanagement. Notably, the large swirl of plastic that is physically visible in the ocean represents a small portion of it, as masses of broken-down plastic particles are dumped beneath (Zarfl et al., 2011). The increased quantity of plastics in oceans is associated with numerous negative impacts on ocean creatures and human beings, thereby being a problem.
Ways in Which Plastics are an Ocean problem
Plastics in the world are problematic to the ocean in various ways. To begin with, plastic garbage in the ocean disrupts the natural ambiance of ocean life. It jeopardizes the whole bio-geo cycle leading to unwanted issues. Plastics threatens the life of ocean creatures, including fish, amphibians, and marine mammals. Resultantly, many ocean species are at risk of becoming extinct, which makes plastics an ocean issue.
Plastic waste over oceans also jeopardizes the life of sea birds and other creatures that depend on the ocean for food. Many birds are attracted and at the same time tricked by bright pieces of plastics, which they eat and end up developing ingestion issues. Equally, the birds are sometimes trapped in the debris and if not rescued die due to suffocation.
Plastic deposits in oceans further affect individuals. Such materials pollute marine waters, making it difficult for individuals using oceans either for fun or as a source of living. Besides, the ingestion of plastic by ocean creatures such as fish end up causing harm to individuals who consume them as food. Once fishing activities have taken place, people eat plastic infected fish and end up developing health complications.
Where Plastics are Found
Plastics are found everywhere within oceans. Notably, plastic debris is observed floating on the ocean surface. However, this forms a very low percentage of the entire plastics present in the ocean, as most of it is submerged beneath the water surface. Plastics beneath the oceans contain microbeads, which are tiny pieces of plastics that are added to various products such as toothpaste.
Characteristics of Ocean Plastics
Plastics are referred to as synthetic organic polymers made of long interconnected molecules. Majority of plastics are hydrocarbons that are primarily extracted from fossil fuel. However, during conversion to various products, many additives such as coloring agents, fillers, thermal stabilizers, and plasticizers are added to enhance their performance. This results in a type of plastics with highly versatile features, including strength and durability. The plastics can also take many forms such as fibers, foams, and adhesives. In this regard, ocean debris entails any solid material that ought to have been discarded into the environment. The plastics are unique in the sense that resistant to biodegradation and are easily transported to the ocean due to its light way.
How Plastics Get to the Ocean
A large quantity of plastic that is widespread in oceans today can be attributed to land sources. It reaches the ocean as a runoff of poorly discarded wastes from land, via rivers to the ocean (Jambeck, et al., 2015). Equally, during natural disasters such as hurricanes, a large quantity of plastic is swept to the ocean. Therefore, the entire population is liable for pollution of the ocean. Irrespective of one’s place, he/she contributes to pollution, as the light plastics are channeled in via rivers. Secondly, plastic wastes can directly find their way to the ocean. Previously, there were nations that were intentionally dumping plastic waste to the ocean. Sometimes accidents are inevitable and can take place within the ocean. For instance, cargo ships can accidently lose containers to oceans (Walker & Livingstone, 2013). Such containers contain plastic materials, which find its way to the ocean. Equally, when tsunami and earthquake hits any given place, plastics find its way directly to the ocean. Therefore, plastics get to the ocean via land and sometimes directly.
How Plastics Can be Reduced
Various strategies can be put across to reduce plastics in oceans. To begin with, a corporate action can significantly reduce the amount of plastics in oceans. Firms should reduce single-use plastic, and embrace initiatives that are important in recycling and cleaning up instructions (Jambeck, n.d.). Firms should also come up with alternative sustainable packaging materials.
Secondly, government policies can also aid in reducing plastics in oceans. Governments should come up with policies that discourages the use of plastics and encourage the introduction of alternative packaging. Governments should act with an immediate effect to prevent widespread of such plastics.
Thirdly, the relevant authorities should engage in education and public awareness on the harmfulness of plastics. In most case, people are not informed about the harm of plastics to the environment. Therefore, the government in collaboration with other organizations should ensure people are aware of the need to conserve the ocean by reducing the use of plastics.
Avio, C. G., Gorbi, S., & Regoli, F. (2017). Plastics and microplastics in the oceans: from emerging pollutants to emerged threat. Marine Environmental Research, 128, 2-11.
Jambeck, J. (n.d.). Marine Plastics. Ocean Si. Retrieved from https://ocean.si.edu/conservation/pollution/marine-plastics
Jambeck, J. R., Geyer, R., Wilcox, C., Siegler, T. R., Perryman, M., Andrady, A., … & Law, K. L. (2015). Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science, 347(6223), 768-771.
Walker, C. H., & Livingstone, D. R. (Eds.). (2013). Persistent pollutants in marine ecosystems. Elsevier.
Zarfl, C., Fleet, D., Fries, E., Galgani, F., Gerdts, G., Hanke, G., & Matthies, M. (2011). Microplastics in oceans. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 62, 1589-1591.