“The plastic in our ocean is just disgusting. It needs to stop. People use too much plastic and it ends up inside the bodies of millions of marine organisms every year,” said Abbey Campbell, an environmentalist who travels the world to work with animals and clean up beaches.
Every year over 300 billion plastic water bottles are dumped into the ocean, according to plasticoceans.org. All the local businesses and people who may not be very educated about the environment go through extremely high amounts of plastic, and most of it ends up in the ocean.
“I don’t care about where my plastic ends up. I mean, if I saw a dead turtle with plastic around its neck I would feel bad, but I just throw my bottles away and don’t think twice about it,” said HHS junior Connor Walsh.
Most people who are throwing their plastic bottles away are doing it because they are uneducated. In a 50 person informal survey conducted in the HHS gymnasium to see how much people knew about the oceans’ plastic problem, 74% said that they believe there is between 5,000-10,000 tons of plastic in the ocean, while in reality there is over 245,000 tons according to an article in metro.co.uk.
Fifty different students also took a one question quiz that had the following question: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a gyre of marine debris in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is twice the size of what state? The potential answers were Rhode Island, Illinois, North Carolina or Texas, and only eight out of 50 got the question right, answering with Texas, a state over 268,000 square miles, according to garbagepatch.net.
As the surveys show, most students aren’t educated on the problem.
“Schools need to get classes that solely focus on the world’s environment. I know most schools have environmental science classes, but I took that class and it didn’t teach me anything about what is going on around the world,” said Campbell.
Coffee shops and restaurants use a lot of plastic. Coffee Haven said they go through about 10 bins of plastic per week, and the Holliston Superette said they sell about 30 plastic cups of coffee per day. That being said, it doesn’t mean they don’t care about the rising plastic problem.
“We are not allowed to use dishware and ceramic cups for our dine in customers because of the limitations of our septic system,” said Pam Farrell, co-owner of Coffee Haven. “We would need a commercial dishwasher and that would exceed the capacity of our current system.”
As more and more towns go plastic-free, some towns, like Holliston, will maintain the status quo.
“It would be a challenge to enforce” a ban on plastic in Holliston, Town Administrator Jeff Ritter said.
Ritter had no comments on how other towns have gone plastic-free, but others are interested in the trend.
“I’m glad towns are cutting out plastic from their town,” said Farrell. But “it would be hard for us as a business if Holliston put a ban on plastic products. Because of the lack of town sewage, many local businesses are forced to use paper and plastic products because of the limitations of individual septic systems,” she added.
Junior Caroline McShane is frustrated with the plastic crisis.
“I don’t get why people don’t just buy a reusable water bottle for $5 and a Brita filter for $10. It only costs 15 bucks to potentially save the lives of animals that live in the ocean,” said McShane.
According to National Geographic, only 9% of plastic is recycled and 10% of all plastic ends up in the ocean.
“I personally think the biggest reason why people throw out their plastic is because of convenience. If somebody who doesn’t care about the environment sees a trash can and no recycling bin, they are going to throw it out. They aren’t going to hold on to an empty bottle for an extra 20 minutes just to find a recycling bin,” said McShane.
Even as the number of nonprofit organizations that try to save the oceans increase, the amount of plastic in the ocean each year increases at an even faster rate.
“There are people who are really trying to make a change, but there are just too many people who don’t care,” said Campbell, “we need more people to be informed or else our efforts to stop it aren’t going to do much. It is getting out of hand.”
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