October 19, 2016
Dear Future President,
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas. Just miles of garbage sitting there in the ocean. If you are driving around 60mph it would take almost 15 hours to drive across Texas. Now imagine that twice. That’s the the size of the garbage patch. While it may not directly impact your life, you still cannot justify ignoring it in my opinion. It is killing our fish which we rely on for food. Unless the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is addressed, pollution will keep filling up the oceans and killing marine life.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an extremely large accumulation of plastics and other pieces of trash. In the article titled, “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and Other Pollution Issues” the author writes, “There are many places polluted by garbage. Plastic is a major contributor because it is not biodegradable. Over time plastic breaks down in small particles of just a few millimeter. These small items of plastic is what people refer to if they mention garbage patches or islands.” The image you may have in your mind about the garbage patch being one giant pile of garbage thick enough to walk on isn’t necessarily true. It consists mostly of the tiny pieces of plastic that the author describes. These tiny pieces of plastic are an even bigger problem than the pieces intact because it is nearly impossible to clean these up. Gyres, or vortexes in the water, swirl the garbage into condensed spots that the garbage can’t escape.
I grew up in Eugene, OR, which was only a half an hour’s drive to the beach. I’ve always been drawn to the beach and loved the ocean. So the thought of countries like us and many Asian countries just dumping our trash into the ocean literally keeps me up at night. These pieces of trash are closing down beaches. You can’t even walk a couple steps without stepping on a piece of plastic in some places. It kills me to think about this issue because these very oceans we are destroying are the same oceans that gave birth to life on this Earth.
Almost all of the garbage in the patch comes from countries who dump their trash directly into the ocean. The rest comes from offshore boats and cargo rigs. As a National Geographic Article claims, “About 80% of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from land-based activities in North America and Asia. The remaining 20% of debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from boaters, offshore oil rigs, and large cargo ships that dump or loose debris directly into the water.” These are massive loads of garbage they are dumping into the ocean, which is why the patch is so massive. This matters because these huge piles of garbage don’t just sit there and affect nothing, they create zones which are uninhabitable for marine life to live. It is poisoning the water.
Poisoning the water isn’t the only thing the garbage is capable of. Not only is it poisoning the fish, it can poison us. So many societies rely on fish and other seafood so heavily that without a healthy supply, many would go hungry. These fish that are being killed are the same fish we eat. The chemicals that the fish swallow don’t go away. We just end up eating them. In the article titled “Plastics in the Ocean Affecting Human Health” it states, “fish and wildlife are becoming intoxicated. Consequently the toxins from the plastics have entered the food chain, threatening human health. In the most polluted places in the ocean, the mass of plastic exceeds the amount of plankton six times over.“ This patch of garbage has gotten into the food chain and is impacting our own health. Not only are the fishes’ lives being taken away from them, but also us as humans. All of this because we are polluting the ocean.
While we may not be able to completely get rid of the garbage, there are things we can personally do to improve the environment and help to terminate ocean pollution. The first step to cleaning up the environment is education. Get to know what is good and not good for the environment (e.g. biodegradable plastics, etc.). You can buy food that isn’t in plastic containers, or foods that don’t have wrappers. The second step is spreading the awareness. The more people who are educated and know the impacts they have, the better chance a change is to happen. Tell your friends how they can help. Spread the word.
It’s not too late to make a stand against pollution. Hopefully the next generation of kids won’t have to grow up and not know the beauty of going to the beach on weekends and seeing the blue vastness of the ocean. Let our generation be known as the one that ended pollution. Not only is the ocean being poisoned, so are we. Physically and mentally. Let’s keep the Earth healthy, because without the ocean, there is no life.