Imagine you are a sea turtle, swimming around the ocean floor. You’re starving, and that little clear thing over there looks just like your regular diet, but it isn’t. When you keep on eating these pieces, you won’t have room for anything else to eat. So, what are those little pieces? It turns out, and those small pieces are plastic, plastic that can float around the ocean for centuries. All types of marine animals eat these little pieces that will get sick and even die. But, how did the plastic get there?
Most Americans do recycle, and although it helps, it’s not enough. You see, when you recycle, very little of what you throw away is reused. It turns up in landfills, then blown into the ocean. Mackenzie Carro explains, “Many creatures accidentally eat plastic, thinking it is food. With stomachs full of plastic and no room for real food, these animals can starve. Other animals can get dangerously tangled in plastic 6-pack drink holders or suffocate inside plastic bags” (Carro, 2020). Because marine animals are becoming sick or even dying from eating plastic, this is endangering species that disrupts the food chain and, ultimately, negatively affects the ocean ecosystem.
Plastic that ends up in the ocean does not disappear. Instead, it is broken down by the sun, heat, and water into tiny pieces known as microplastics, which are dangerous for ocean wildlife. Mackenzie Carro states, “Anna also learned that microplastics are very difficult to get rid of. They are often too small for humans to spot easily. What’s more, algae can grow on microplastics, which makes them blend in with other particles in the ocean. This is what makes microplastics dangerous for marine animals, many of which get sick or even die from” (Carro, 2020). Overall, when we throw things away like plastic, some is recycled, some sit with no place to go. Then toxins are released, which harm plants and animals, and trash on beaches and lakes also is very harmful to the environment. You can help by replacing plastic forks and spoons and straws with metal, reusable ones. Use cloth napkins to dry your hands, use reusable containers, and choose refillable water bottles instead of a disposable water bottle. If we all take these steps, we will have a better environment for us and the beautiful animals around us.