An Ocean Full of Plastic

How Trash Islands are Polluting our Oceans

By Madison Schick

Trash islands are a problem commonly looked over by the government and companies. Most people don’t even know they exist. With six in total, the biggest one stands at 600,000 square miles and growing. It sits between the coast of Hawaii and California, growing bigger everyday.

It will take millions of years to dissolve on its own. Nearly 3 times the size of Texas and over 30 feet deep in some parts, it’s polluting the ocean, causing some serious issues.

Recently the concerns regarding the bleaching of coral reefs worldwide have come to light. Although proposed solutions like wearing less damaging sunscreen and avoiding touching the coral, the trash islands play a huge part in the pollution of oceans. To put this into perspective, half the Great Barrier Reef is dead due to bleaching, according to National Geographic. Bleaching occurs when coral gets too warm, gets surrounded by chemicals, or is cut down. Coral is very sensitive, so chemicals in the water from plastic waste make the coral sick.

In addition, the pollution is also killing sea life when trash is mistaken for food. Animals can’t digest plastic, often it gets stuck in the animal’s system, or the animal physically gets trapped in an area of plastic. Even when fish do survive after eating plastic and we can end up eating that plastic, if the fish is caught and sold.

According to the 2012 U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimate, it would cost the United States at least $122 million. They estimated it would take $489 million just to hire enough boats to clean the Pacific garbage patch. It’s clear the government won’t pay for it, therefore leading to no one addressing the problem.

All in all, this problem is becoming irreversible. We need to find a way to fix this problem before it reaches the point where we can’t.

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