Seoul, Tokyo, Jakarta, Los Angeles, June 20 (IPS) – This is the second in a series written by high school and high school students in Asia and the United States. Have you ever watched the movie “Free Willy”? A young boy, Jesse, had a killer whale friend named Willie. Jesse released Willie into the wilderness, believing it was the best solution for his friend. Well, that was a long time ago.
If Free Willy was made in 2022, would we have the same ending?
With over 165 million tons of plastic waste found in the ocean these days, makes us wonder if Willie would really feel safe in our plastic-filled waters.
Given that more than 100 million marine animals die each year from plastic pollution, wouldn’t the aquarium be a safer habitat for Willie today?
Let’s look at what causes plastic waste in the ocean, how ocean ecosystems are affected, and what action we need to take to reduce it, protect marine life, and ultimately sustain our global biodiversity.
One day, while watching TV, I was so disturbed by a campaign that featured images of suffering fish and sea turtles entangled in plastic bags and fishing nets.
About 8 million tons of plastic a year end up in the ocean, with about 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the sea. No wonder so many marine animals get entangled in them. This restricts their movements, leading to their premature death.
That’s why I wonder if Willie would really be free in our ocean today.
Besides, how did the plastic get there in the first place? Well, ALL of us humans are the direct reason for this! The plastic rubbish that we carelessly dispose of flows into the rivers that take it to the ocean – including discarded nets, ropes, ropes and abandoned fishermen’s boats.
Which countries are most responsible for this? According to University of Georgiacountries such as China and Indonesia top the list of countries causing plastic pollution by blocking the global sea.
However, we all know that Willie is not the only marine animal affected by plastic waste in the ocean – all marine life and ecosystems are affected by it, which directly affects our biodiversity.
Why should we care? Because it affects ALL HUMANITY! We are also affected.
According to International Union for Conservation of Nature12-14,000 tons of microplastics are consumed by fish in the North Pacific every year because many of them confuse plastics with food.
These are the same fish that we humans consume! According to Luis Gabriel A Barbosa and others in the journal Science Direct, 49% of the fish they analyzed had microplastics inside the gastrointestinal tract, gills and back muscle.
Given that we are at the top of the seafood food network, we eat about 842 microplastics a year from fish consumption. This is awful!
According to a study by Joanna Korea Prata and others, microplastics can impair immune function and cause neurotoxicity in humans.
So, in short, we end up eating the plastic garbage we throw into the ocean, which will inevitably make us sick.
Just think about it: we eat 40 pounds of plastic (18 pounds) in our lifetime. This is the size of a large bag of dog food! Even worse, plastic can even contain harmful toxins!
Now, how does it make you feel?
In the same way, marine animals are also injured by plastic waste. According to EcoWatchone in three species of marine animals become entangled in garbage.
Isn’t it sad that 86% of innocent sea turtles suffocate, drown or become entangled in plastic?
What about microplastics? When marine animals swallow plastic, they can starve to death because their stomachs are full of plastic debris and are often cut from plastic and suffer from internal injuries.
If we don’t stop the accumulation of plastic waste in the ocean, what will happen to our marine animals and us?
According to Condor Ferries, by 2050, fish will be superior to our discarded plastic. If you had to snorkel until then, expecting to see beautiful marine life, you will be shocked to find dirty plastic floating around you in its place.
Under these circumstances, how does plastic waste affect ocean water? According to Okunola A Alabi and others, the plastic in the oceans does not decompose completely. During the decomposition process of plastics, toxic chemicals such as polystyrene and BPA can be released into the water, causing water pollution.
In addition to water pollution, plastic waste also threatens marine habitats. Severe conditions and constant movement in the ocean break down plastic into particles smaller than 5 mm in diameter, called microplastics, which disperse even deeper and deeper into the sea, where they pollute. more habitats.
If Jesse released Willie into the ocean now, how would Willie feel when he swallowed the microplastic with every breath? Something needs to be done for other animals like Willy. What actions can we take to solve this problem?
Well, we don’t have to be great to do something spectacular.
Even a small grain of an idea can lead to a considered decision.
Let’s share what we do to reduce plastic waste in our daily lives.
As high school students, we carry our reusable bottles to school and drink from the tap.
We use shampoo bars instead of plastic bottle shampoo.
In addition, instead of using plastic bags for our groceries, we carry our reusable bags.
And when we go home, we import our pots so that the restaurant doesn’t have to use plastic containers. For example, when we go to a place to take out shoulder noodles, we carry our pots and give them to the restaurant owner. Then he uses ours instead of disposable plastics (see main photo).
We also carry our slogans in public places such as schools and grocery stores as our campaign to educate people on reducing plastic waste and protecting ocean animals and the environment (See photos 1 ~ 4).
These may be small actions, but they actively help reduce plastic waste. If you join us in our waste-free lifestyle, we can make our community practice zero waste.
If our community is moving towards zero waste, maybe we can help our country practice zero waste. If our nation goes to zero waste, our neighbors can join us and we can eventually make this whole world practice zero waste!
This type of chain reaction is not an exaggerated idea. We can make this happen !!
One small step is all it takes to start turning INACTION into ACTION! Many parts of the world already practice zero waste, such as Japan, Costa Rica, Dominica and Guatemala, where more than 80 percent of their waste is reused and recycled.
It is our duty as global citizens to keep marine animals and their habitats safe from our plastic waste. Aquatic animals do so much for us.
Not only do they provide us with food to eat, but they are part of the vital ecosystems on which our global biodiversity depends.
So, exercise your strength by doing your part to keep the ocean clean and safe for them.
Those who can and want to practice the zero waste movement – COME, please join our campaign!
Use your creative mind to imagine an ocean without plastic. Marine animals like Willie will never be free unless we, as citizens of the world, take action to clean up the garbage at sea.
For the love of sea life, as Mother Teresa said, let us do small things with great love. How would you like to start contributing? Our oceans must thrive in order for EVERYONE to survive!
Andrew Lee, Karuta Yamamoto, Su Jung (Crystal) Cho and Warren Oh are high school students living in the United States and Asia. They participated in a joint training of APDA and IPS to develop content for opinion. Hannah Yun led the course and edited the content of the opinion.
Report to the IPS UN Bureau
© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter press service