Take a minute and think about how often plastic bags are used every week, every day, every hour, and even every minute. It is estimated that 1 trillion bags are used per year, meaning that about 2 million bags are used per minute. How long are they used for? It's a matter of minutes or even seconds, really. Some people know the drastic ways that plastic affects our oceans, health, and economy... but others have never even heard about it. Let me put it for you simply:
- Plastic bags can be consumed by or entangled around marine animals. This either kills them from starvation or suffocation. This affects at least 267 species of marine animals.
- The plastic debris flows with the currents and washes ashore of beaches all over the world, including remote ones that have no other way of contacting with the pollution of the big cities. This can negatively affect our economy because people come from all over the world to visit beautiful beaches. If the beaches are filled with trash, tourism will decline and this will be a huge economic loss.
- Toxins that are emitted from the plastic latch onto the fats of fish, become bioaccumulated, and when we eat the fish the toxins have become biomagnified, resulting in unhealthy toxins in our body that can lead to other health problems.
- Plastic is made from oil, a non-renewable resource.
It's difficult to avoid when it's the only option stores have. But now, we can change this. As California voters, if we vote YES on Proposition 67 and NO on Proposition 65, we have the chance to ban plastic bags in California. Plastic bags are for convenience, right? Well, if you see the problems we have with them, it is a lot more convenient to vote on a ballot to ban them than to avoid them at all costs on your own. If we come together as a single force against ocean pollution, we CAN make a difference on bigger scales! Bans from whole states, and hopefully soon we can even do this on a national level. There is nothing we can't accomplish TOGETHER.
As a high school senior, many of my friends are able to vote this year. It is such an exciting time! The only issue is, not many of them even look at the propositions, nor are they educated about them. This is what I'm trying to change. With the help of family and friends, I started an awareness project. Two of my best friends and I sat in the back of a pickup truck at a parking lot overlooking the ocean and cut and painted signs out of cardboard. Another friend of mine decided to help me take the awareness photos attached below. I teamed up with the Surfrider Foundation to organize a beach cleanup after the photoshoot, and then I posted the pictures on social media in order to raise awareness in a creative way that hopefully not only gets the attention of voters and ocean enthusiasts, but also inspires people to do similar things to advocate for the ocean. Who doesn't love being a mermaid and playing in the ocean and simultaneously spreading awareness for a great cause? If you love arts and crafts, try making some signs of your own. I'm not a crafty person, and I still had such a blast painting with my friends. We can make these things FUN. If we learn to spread awareness about huge world-wide issues in a captivating, fun, creative way... it will not only be a great way of enjoying life for us but also more interesting for others. Enjoy these photos and share them with family and friends!