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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Galveston Island, Galveston, Texas, USA

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Galveston Island, Galveston, Texas, USA
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poonamagrawal



Registered: December 2016
City/Town/Province: Houston
Posts: 1
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Every bit of life in this world began in the oceans over 3 billion years ago. It became a home for over 1 million known species of plants and animals, and 9 million more, yet to be discovered. But, it has now become a possibility that the beauty of the seas will remain hidden from human eyes. We have polluted the oceans so much to the point of extinction for many species, and endangerment to many others.


Whether you realize it or not, plastic, waste, and debris is everywhere. From grocery bags to Styrofoam plates to the lining of Band-Aids, we consume more items than past generations combined. Although you might find it second nature to toss an empty water bottle in the garbage, you're only increasing the likelihood of releasing dangerous chemicals into even the most isolated of water sources.


The problem is so severe that plastic pieces in the ocean now outnumber sea life 6 to 1, and we are directly contributing to make this problem worse. 90 percent of the pollution in oceans is made up of plastics. In fact, enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth 4 times. But what exactly makes it so harmful?


When plastic is manufactured, hundreds of plastic pellets are joined together to create one coherent structure. The pellets are not biodegradable, which means that instead of decomposing, they will break down into smaller and smaller pieces that still carry trace amounts of the original chemicals used to manufacture them. The small pieces of plastic are consumed by animals, sometimes causing them to choke, but other times causing them to feel full even though they have not eaten. The animals eventually starve to death.


You may be wondering how is it that you contribute directly to this problem. Well, the plastic that you throw away in the garbage- used utensils, Ziploc bags, plastic packaging- either ends up in a landfill, or is washed away to the ocean, where it swirls into large masses of trash trapped in the ocean's currents called gyres. The Great Pacific gyre has now become bigger than twice the size of Texas. As for the landfills, well, remember those pellets that plastic was manufactured from? The chemicals from the pellets leak through to the bottom of the landfill and form a highly toxic chemical called leachate, which soaks into the ocean and is passed higher up the food chain as animals consume it, through a process called biomagnification. Ultimately, the plastic that humans throw away in the garbage ends up as a poison in their own bodies.


The fact is, though, plastic is everywhere- we sometimes don't even realize how dependent we are on it. Every time a piece of plastic ends up in the trash, we take life away from the oceans. Of course, no one sees themselves as a killer, but the truth is, the average American throws away about 185 pounds of plastic every year. These plastics break down into such small fragments that a one liter bottle of soda could end up on every mile of beach throughout the world. But even after knowing the damage that plastic waste does to the environment, humans choose to ignore the consequences and continue expediting the flow of plastics into the oceans. Out of the 300 million tons of plastic produced each year, only about 5 percent are recovered through recycling.


But even if we simply recycle the plastic we use, we are not doing all we can to reduce the damage plastic does to the environment. Recycling plastic is a good start, but it is not a sustainable practice. If we keep recycling plastic, we will keep producing it, and inevitably it will end up back in the oceans. Our duty now is to find replacements for the plastic we use every day so that we can eliminate plastic from our daily lives. Reusable water bottles and paper bags are a good start, and as we spread awareness for saving our oceans, more ideas are bound to take shape. Of course, it is impossible to completely eliminate plastics from our lives. Manufacturers continue to use plastic in their packaging because it is an affordable and efficient material to use. As we start lessening our consumption of plastic made products, manufacturers will begin using organic and environmental friendly materials to create demand for their products again.


We all now have a personal responsibility to reduce our consumption of plastics. The Interact Club at my high school has taken this initiative on as our Apprentice Ecologist Project. The vast majority of our efforts have been devoted to encouraging teachers recycle their paper and plastic rather than dispose of it in the trash by providing recycling boxes in each of their rooms, and coming around to every hallway once every two weeks to recycle their materials for them. Over the past four years, our club has recycled over 500 pounds of paper and plastic! Every fall, we also visit our local beach in Galveston to pick up waste on the shore, and advocate for cleaner and sustainable practices around our school and community. Every piece of trash we find is noted and catalogued by the Texas General Land Office, and volunteers from all around Texas work together to bag and dispose of thousands of pounds of waste on the shorelines. As President of Interact, I see first-hand the difference it makes in the community when people work together to save the planet.


We all wish to make a change in the world, and now, our calling has arrived. We need to wake up and realize that one day, our bad habit of accumulating tons and tons of waste will harm more than just the millions of sea creatures we take for granted- it will harm our bodies and our children. One day, we will think of the dolphins and the whales as no less of a myth than mammoths and dodo birds, and future generations will find clean water to be a luxury. We have the power to undo the damage done to our oceans right now. Join in to stop plastic pollution before the problem spirals out of control. Volunteer to help clean up a beach. Cut down on your usage of plastic products and find new alternatives. Don't litter into the streets and gutters. But most importantly, spread the message. Talk to your friends and family about cutting down the dependency on plastic and finding a solution to a problem we have created. When we save our oceans, we save ourselves, and breathe life back into the place where life itself was born.
Date: December 27, 2016 Views: 928 File size: 19.0kb, 798.7kb : 2654 x 2000
Hours Volunteered: 300
Volunteers: 60
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 14 to 18
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 130
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 200
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