The constant barrier that remains in the way between ocean pollution and its solution is the cost factor. The fact that the world is so consistently worried about how much it will cost to keep oceans clean is the main reason why it’s not a work in progress at the moment. It’s similar to when one puts off an essay because of how much time it will take as the deadline approaches. The problem never goes away. In fact, it becomes more prominent and continues to manifest as the time spent procrastinating it is extended. The problem with ocean pollution is never going to disperse on its own; human intervention is needed and costly drastic measures need to be taken to ensure the problem doesn’t reach a point where even money can’t solve it. My hypothesis of creating edible straws is a step in the right direction of reducing the amount of plastic that enters into the ocean. The drawbacks include the cost and time it would take to make them, but the fact that there needs to be a breakthrough in solving ocean pollution denounces those claims.
The relationship between the world in the environment is one of negligence and ignorance. We as a community disregard the necessity of a healthy and well nurtured area for us to inhabit. The American philosopher and ecologist Aldo Leopold once said, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it for love and respect.” The initial steps in living up to Leopold’s words is giving up the ideology that fixing the problem is too much money. That isn’t a solution and it only works in setting the earth deeper and deeper into a polluted black hole. To begin, taking small steps is a way to try to help the situation. Littering has a huge impact on ocean pollution. According to the National Ocean Service, “Eighty percent of pollution to the marine environment comes from the land.” This trash on land travels to the ocean in rainstorms which ultimately creates ocean pollution. Not littering, especially at beaches, will be a massive help and it literally costs nothing but maybe a longer walk to throw something away or recycle. So, the idea that cleaning the oceans is a massively expensive task is not true at all, taking small steps is one way to make an impact, however small, to removing pollution from the oceans.
Small individual tasks such as not littering, picking up trash, and recycling are ways to pave the way for a solution, other methods the world can take to ensure safer and cleaner oceans is by governments around the world using other material besides plastic to create necessary items. Items such as straws and water bottles are made with plastic because it’s cheaper to make and producers know people are only going to use these things once. Making objects like bags and silverware only in metal and creating a culture of reusing things is a step the government can take to prevent the huge amounts of plastic that flood the oceans each year. Based on research reported by CNBC news, it only cost half a cent to produce each straw, but it cost 2½ cents to make paper straws which are safer for the environment. Why hasn’t the world switched over yet? Because “it’s too expensive.” A young nine-year-old boy engaged in an environmental project where he calculated how many plastic straws Americans use a day. His estimates were around 500 million a day. Some people have even declared that number is “too low”, (Money magazine, 2018). What number has to be “too high for the world to open their eyes and acknowledge the problem we face today with the large amounts of plastic in the ocean?
Bangladesh already stepped on the path of reducing ocean pollution in 2007 by banning plastic bags. New Zealand has followed suite and banned them as well. The “New Scientist” newsletter reports that the Prime Minister of New Zealand states, “New Zealand currently uses over 750 million single-use plastic bags per year, which is equivalent to about 150 per person. “A mountain of bags, many of which end up polluting our precious coastal and marine environments and cause serious harm to all kinds of marine life.” While this switch from plastic to more recyclable material is costly, counties such as New Zealand and Bangladesh recognize the immediate need to reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean. Small individual steps and bigger governmental intervention can help out the situation in numerous ways regardless of the cost. The cost of not having a sustainable planet to live on is even higher than any efforts to solve the problem can ever be.
There are various production companies that are against reducing ocean pollution and the steps that have to be taken to reach that point. This is because they benefit from making cheap single-use plastic items. But the world can’t ignore the problem much longer. Not only is ocean pollution wrong, it literally effects the whole world. The economic downfalls for one are clearly evident. The decrease in sea life will cause the fish and seafood market to plummet. But the future costs from ocean pollution are the most appalling. Right now, the United Nations Environment Programme estimate that the “price tag on the environmental damage done by the millions of tons of plastic floating around the world’s oceans: $13 billion a year.” If the environmental cost is thirteen billion dollars right now, the future costs will be nothing but higher. If we keep complaining about the issue and not acting on the current problems at hand, we’ll just be bystanders to the self-destruction of our earth. The change starts within, we can start small and work our way up. Efforts as small as not littering, beach cleanups, and governmental interventions similar to Bangladesh and New Zealand are all ways the world can get involved, the cost shouldn’t be the determining factor for our decision to save our earth.
US Department of Commerce, & National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2008, October 08). What is the biggest source of pollution in the ocean? Retrieved March 31, 2019, from https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/pollution.html
Ell, K. (2018, July 10). Paper straws cost ‘maybe 10 times’ more than plastic straws, says paper straw distributor. Retrieved March 31, 2019, from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/09/paper-straws-are-better-for-the-environment-but-they-will-cost-you.html
Langone, A. (2018, July 23). No One Knew How Many Plastic Straws Americans Use Every Day. Then a 9-Year-Old Kid Did the Math. Retrieved March 31, 2019, from http://money.com/money/5343736/how-many-plastic-straws-used-every-day/
Klein, A., & ENVIRONMENT. (2018, August 10). New Zealand becomes the latest country to ban plastic bags. Retrieved March 31, 2019, from https://www.newscientist.com/article/2176417-new-zealand-becomes-the-latest-country-to-ban-plastic-bags/
United Nations Environment Programme. (1970, January 01). Marine litter: Trash that kills. Retrieved March 31, 2019, from https://wedocs.unep.org/handle/20.500.11822/9691