Imagine that you are driving down a busy highway or road during the day, and you notice there is trash scattered alongside the road. How would that make you feel? Would you feel anger, disappointment, or sadness?
The impact humans have on the planet these days is astronomically different than the impact a century ago and for worse, too. The existential dilemma is that, compared to a century ago, there are far more sources of pollution evolving and surfacing and that is the reality we will have the face in the coming decades. Should we take action when this problem becomes too serious or should we take action now?
Initially, some people would believe that the most problematic source of pollution is carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. However, it is the second highest-emitting greenhouse gas below carbon dioxide, the dangerous compound, methane. Methane traps 86 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (earthjustice.org). The sources of methane emissions trace to animal agriculture, oil, and gas leaks, and construction projects just to name a few. It is also involved in the manufacturing process of plastics and other petroleum byproducts.
Of course, these materials are littered, and often times, this trash finds a way to the streams and rivers which eventually empties into the ocean. Consequentially, animals that see the plastic bags and can-holders floating by will think it is food and try to consume them. It does not take long for the material to enter their digestive system and cause some serious damage, usually leading to a painful death.
As of January 2015, there are over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the oceans and of that total, 269,000 tons float on the surface (news.nationalgeographic.com). Also, in addition to the staggering numbers, there are over four billion microfibers of plastic debris in the deep sea. And those are statistics from the beginning of 2015! The numbers from 2017 may be even more startling.
Do you find yourself alarmed? If so, it is okay because there is still time to take action. You can do your part and feel great about saving the lives of animals and ensuring pristine quality of the oceans. So what are you waiting for?
You may be wondering, "Well, what can I do?"
...There's a few things you can do.
- First Tip: You can start a week or month-long low waste challenge to track how much trash you accumulate over the allotted time frame. By the end of the challenge, you will likely understand the amounts of waste generated. And it adds up quickly!
- Second Tip: Shop with reusable bags or compostable paper bags. This simple change can have a lasting effect on waste and the total carbon footprint.
- Third Tip: Purchase with your power of choice (putting your $$ where your mouth is). Choosing to buy foods and goods that are packaged with biodegradable or reusable material helps with decreasing the impact and carbon footprint, too.
- Fourth Tip: Avoid the purchase and use of petroleum byproducts, plastics, and Styrofoam as often as you can. This conscious practice guarantees that the such materials are minimized, and decreases the possibility that more of these materials will enter waterways leading into the oceans.
There are certainly many other courses of action, but you will have to find out that information in my next story.
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