Pacific Ocean: Our Planet is Drowning in Plastic Pollution

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An area that I previously lived near was the Pacific Ocean, and this place was located approximately two miles from Newport and Huntington Beach, California. I lived near these two Southern California beaches for twenty years and visited them both frequently. I feel fortunate to have lived near a beach ecosystem with high biodiversity and perfect year-round weather. What I noticed throughout my years of visiting Huntington Beach is how the presence of single use plastic bags andplastic bottles have increased near and along the mouth of the Santa Ana river. The Santa Ana river source begins in the San Bernardino mountains which is about ninety miles away from the coastline. This freshwater river ends and then drains into the Pacific Ocean at Huntington Beach. I believe that this increase in plastic bags and bottles are from those who live inland and frequent the river’s edge and water during the summer. They litter and leave their plastic trash behind which eventually floats down the Santa Ana and enters our ocean. I feel this unnecessary pollution of our water needs to stop. According to Dianna Cohen, Cofounder of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, “We need to cut the spigot of single-use and disposable plastics, which are entering the marine environment every day on a global scale. There is nothing natural about plastic. “Bisphenol A or BPA as it is more commonly known, is a synthetic chemical.

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Since the late 1940’s, it has been a staple ingredient in the linings of metal food cans and plastic products of every kind” Because plastics are created with non-renewable resources, the more plastic a factory produces, the less non-renewable resource we have left over for future generations. Plastic bags and bottles slowly degrade. “On beaches and the surface of the ocean, it can occur more quickly due to exposure to sunlight and the additional weathering action of wind and waves, which produces the tiny plastic bits found in the ocean garbage patch” Furthermore, after these tiny plastic bits float slightly below the water, the biodiversity of marine and wildlife declines by this toxic waste after fish ingest these tiny plastic pieces that accumulate in the North Pacific Gyre.

Consequently, fish or birds who eat the tiny pieces of plastic become ill, which causes a decline in the biodiversity ofmarine and wildlife. “In the Los Angeles area alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments like grocery bags, straws, and soda bottles are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day”. Here in California, a partial solution to this problem has been applied after Proposition 67 passed in 2016, which banned distribution of single use thin plastic bags. This was a win for our environment and a loss for the plastic industry. More people using a reusable grocery bag when they shop to avoid paying a ten cent per thick plastic bag fee. Unfortunately, Proposition 65, which was on the same ballet, failed to pass. Had Proposition 67 passed, our environment would have won twice because the current ten-cent per single thick plastic bag fee would have went into a special fund to support environmental projects. The trade-off from switching from thin plastic bags to a reusable bag is decreased use of non-renewable petroleum products that are needed to manufacture additional plastic bags. However, thick plastic bags are still available, so the real cost to produce these thicker plastic bags is beyond a monetary figure after irreversible ozone damage is done due to increased air pollution from the manufacturing process. The scale that this solution of banning thin plastic bags is large because California’s west border is 840 miles of coastline and connect to our oceans which cover two-thirds of our Earth.

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