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The Throw Away Society

June 24, 2013

We hardly ever think about our trash once it leaves our bins.  I have recently learned about “The Great Garbage Patch” in the Pacific Ocean. The Garbage Patch is an area in the ocean considered to be a dead zone or a gyre to sailors and scientists; there are no currents or wind to move the boat along. In the recent years, we have discovered millions of pounds of floating plastic garbage in the dead zone. The surrounding currents swirl around the gyre, depositing plastic residue from humans. It floats there, with no place to go, bobbing up and down with the waves. The Pacific gyre is not the only one; there are a total of five gyres around the globe, all carrying plastic refuse from around the world.

The sea animals live in our refuse everyday. We throw things away, but they do not go away. Plastic never biodegrades-ever. Plastic is pourous; so once in the ocean, the plastic soaks up other toxins and chemicals dumped into the ocean. Sounds great right, plastic soaking up chemicals we spilled? This is absolutely wrong, what happens instead kills marine species. The plastic is in such large quatities of various sizes, the animals cannot distinguish the plastic from the actual food. Animals swallow the plastic and the toxins simultaneously. Both cause death. If the animal lives once ingesting the plastic, that toxic plastic capsule moves up the food chain-eventually to humans who put the plastic there in the first place. Larger quantities of toxins occur in larger animals, because they are eating more plastic. If the plastic does not make it up the food chain, it clogs the digestive system of whatever species ate the plastic. The tiny photoplankton consume the plastic shavings. The birds consume the plastic soda caps. Even sperm whales consume large portions of plastic. The result is the same- death. A two year old sperm whale died a couple of years ago. When the scientist performed a necropsy, they found “450 pounds of debris, most of it plastic, in the whale’s digestive track, just taking up space ” (Humes, 108). Basically, the whale died of starvation because of the plastic trash-human trash.

We are the throw away society. Everything is packaged in plastic, and plastic is a relatively new invention,meant to be thrown away. Within the last fifty years, we have managed to fill massive landfills and create floating piles of trash around the world all in the name of progress. Plastic never decomposes. It is man-made and uses the natural resource of oil to create the chemical compound. Unlike glass, once plastic is tainted with any kind of chemical, the heating treatment never kills the toxin.

The world should not perish at the hands of humans. We are intelligent species capable of choice, yet choose to throw everything away.

Humes, Edward. Garbology Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash. New York: Avery, 2012.

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