Combatting plastic pollution: what you need to know and why it matters

 

 

By Janie W., Alvin C. and William S., High School Global Development Studies students

Plastic. Our world is choking in it. The oceans are full of it. We have a major issue on our planet and we discovered, early in the semester during our empathy interviews with Concordians, that a lot of us don’t know enough about it.

So, for our semester project, we set out to investigate the big issue of plastic pollution so we could curate the best sources of information about the issue and share these to educate the Concordia community.

The United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals was our starting point. We had studied these goals for months, and settled on Goal 14: Life Below Water, to learn about the effects of our plastic disposal and waste on the ocean, and how that in turn has come to affect us.

We are taught that plastic has a negative impact on the environment at an early age; however, many of us don’t understand why. A recent report, according to the Science Advances, has estimated that, by 2050, there will be close to 10 billion metric tons of plastic in our environment. Plastic doesn’t degrade easily, in fact, a single plastic bottle may take up to 1000 years to decompose.

Some other shocking facts regarding plastic pollution in our aquatic environments include that just one of the five masses, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, if it were a country, would be the 18th largest country in the world. There are 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch alone, with 5.25 trillion - and counting - in the ocean. It’s estimated there might be more than 51 trillion microplastic pieces in the ocean, as well.

The fact that only one of these garbage accumulations contains so much plastic is unfathomable, so we’ll put these numbers into perspective: these 51 trillion microplastics alone weigh up to 269,000 tons. That is approximately the same weight of 1,345 adult blue whales, 500 times the number of stars in our galaxy and, for those airplane nerds, the same weight as 570 Boeing 747s that are fully loaded.

This number does not even account for how much plastic we put out annually both on land and off; annually, we manufacture 300 million tons of plastic, half of which are single use. This is equivalent to the weight of the entire adult population of the planet. EcoWatch estimates that over 40% of the world’s ocean surfaces is not even ocean, but now plastic debris.

As a result of the research we’ve conducted, we’re curated information in this website: https://ourplasticpromise.weebly.com/welcome.html. Please visit our site to learn more about plastic pollution and what you can do to combat it.

This cannot be the end of our journey, however. We know now that time is closing in on us; we need to work to preserve our Earth for our future generations, for our children and their children, and we have to act now.

We need to advocate and educate, so that we can live on, so that our planet can continue breathing. It begins with education, so let’s continue to learn and advocate together.  

Again, please visit out website: https://ourplasticpromise.weebly.com/welcome.html.