A few weeks ago Pacific Marine Mammal Center hosted a movie night and fundraiser, showing the film A Plastic Ocean. It was a great event, as there were different groups raising awareness and coming up with solutions on how we can improve our plastic epidemic. One group in particular was really inspiring, strawfree.org, as they make bamboo straws in all different sizes in order to reduce plastic straw use. This group was founded by Diana Lofflin, and many students at UC Irvine have joined the cause. If you're looking for straws that don't have a negative impact on the environment, definitely check them out!
Without completely spoiling the film for you, A Plastic Ocean was very well done, explaining our problems with plastic in a way that captivates the audience. Some of the big topics that were discussed include: the gyre system that traps plastics in a whirlpool, how animals suffer from entanglement, how the plastic affects our food through bioaccumulation and biomagnification, how birds at Midway Island are suffering, and some of the preventative measures people are taking.
It was absolutely shocking for me to see the state of lower-income countries and how they deal with the amount of plastic on their land. In the Philippines and in other countries as well, people are living on a mountain of plastic and many of them are dying from cancer and other diseases because of their close proximity to all of the toxins. It is so sad because many of these people don't have the means to make large-scale change to improve their living environment, yet they suffer from the consequences of our growing plastic use each and every day.
An important point that was made by a mother in the documentary was that it's getting to a point where it may not be safe to have children. These toxins that are in our food and in our environment have the ability to impact our genes and cause serious issues for babies and their growth. If we want future generations to be safe and healthy, we must act very quickly.
On the bright side, I learned about some incredible programs and solutions that have been growing in order to help our problem. One business in particular has created a system where people are payed to pick up trash off their local beaches, allowing for lower-income countries to have more job opportunities as well as a cleaner environment. Also, it has become apparent that since plastic is made from oil in the first place, it is possible to revert it back to its original state. This is huge for us, because oil is a non-renewable resource that is highly demanded in our society. If we can make plastic-to-oil production a popular system, we may be looking at a glimpse of hope for our ocean. We've seen the greed that countries have when it comes to oil and money, and so if we can concentrate that greed into picking up plastic trash from our ocean in order to make it into a resource... this could be very significant for economic prosperity as well as the environment.
I highly recommend watching this film. You can buy it on iTunes or find it on YouTube, and it truly is an eye-opener to the problems we have and how we can fix them. No matter how sad it makes us feel, it also makes us inspired to be the change and help provide a healthy ocean for the next generation.