I have made this blog for my Girl Scout Silver Award. My goal is to go as close to zero waste (with my family) as possible. I have been researching and creating The Switch List, a list of all my daily things that I will need to switch out! I will track my progress and discoveries on this blog, share information, and make videos. My goal is to influence other teenagers about using less trash and hopefully inspire them to make a change, too. This is such an important topic to me, I wanted to do my Silver Award on it so I could help other people to make a change. For my Gold Award I am hoping my change will be more than just a few teenagers using less plastic bags. I hope to inspire stores, for them to make changes. Like have more stores reduce their plastic packaging, and have more bulk options. Like right now, Whole Foods, has bulk options, but they don’t let you bring containers! So, what’s the point? It needs to be easier for people to make this effort. For this project, I am hoping to talk to some stores, maybe even make a change in them. I might have to save that for my Gold Award, though. But for now, I really hope I inspire all of you, and you can inspire other people. Even the littlest of effort can help. Thank you.
When I found pictures of marine animals trapped in plastic, probably facing slow painful death, I felt overwhelmed with sadness and cried. When I read about the pictures, is when I learned that all my recycling is most likely not getting recycled! That is the reason I picked this topic for my Girl Scout Silver Award. I saw the pictures of marine animals and was inspired to try and make a change in the world. Or at least with myself. With 8 billion people on the planet, if everyone made a little effort, we could make a change.
Americans produce 250 tons of trash per year, and only 34% of that is recycled. Isn’t that absurd? Now think of all of that trash in landfills. Eventually, there’s no more room! So, where does that trash go? Mostly the ocean! Because there is so much trash in the ocean, islands of trash have started to form. Currently there are 5.25 million pieces of trash floating in the ocean, weighing up to 269,000 tons. And because of all the plastic, the marine animals are harmed by either being choked or eating the trash. For example, you know when you go to the store and get a pack of Coke or Sprite, and there is a six-pack ring around it? And when you eventually drink all of the Coke, you throw it in the trash. In the ocean, it is like a net because it’s shaped in circles, and it can choke animals around their neck, or for dolphins their nose. For another example, plastic straws. They go up the noses of turtles or other animals, and get stuck and start to pierce through their skin. It’s pretty gruesome.
Apparently, about 8 million pieces of plastic end up in the ocean everyday! And most of that plastic is single-use, and It will never go away. If you throw away a plastic bottle today, it will most likely still be in the landfill 100 years from now. But, if we don’t have any room for the trash now, then what about in the future? Well, to solve this problem our government has started dumping our trash into other countries. So now countries like Ghana, Nigeria, China, and India are becoming polluted by our trash and it’s hard to live there from air and water pollution. It’s not fair to them, just because we create so much trash.
Some other plastic pollution facts from National Geographic*:
- “We have a mere 9.2 billion tons of the stuff to deal with. Of that, more than 6.9 billion tons have become waste. And of that waste, a staggering 6.3 billion tons never made it to a recycling bin”
- “about 8.8 million tons, her (a scientist interviewed) middle-of-the-road estimate of what the ocean gets from us annually.”
- “It’s unclear how long it will take for that plastic to completely biodegrade into its constituent molecules. Estimates range from 450 years to never.”
- “ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals every year. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by it. Some are harmed visibly—strangled by abandoned fishing nets or discarded six-pack rings. Many more are probably harmed invisibly. Marine species of all sizes, from zooplankton to whales, now eat microplastics.”
- “To ride currents, seahorses clutch drifting seagrass or other natural debris. In the polluted waters off the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, this seahorse latched onto a plastic cotton swab—“a photo I wish didn’t exist,” says photographer Justin Hofman.”
- “from 2.3 million tons in 1950, it grew to 162 million in 1993 and to 448 million by 2015”