We have many serious issues facing our society today, such as a severely struggling economy, elevated criminal activity, flawed health care, social security issues and lack of gainful employment, just to name a few. We do realize that environmental issues have set themselves on the “back-burner” for many law-makers, however, to some degree, everyone must realize that there will be no livable world if we do not begin to address our environmental concerns, even if we could repair all of these other issues.
One such pressing issue that we would like to bring to everyone’s attention is the plastic “soup” which currently resides in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which is now roughly twice the size and width of Texas. In some areas, it is nearly 90 feet thick/deep at the surface, where the sun slowly breaks the plastic down into smaller parts. As we already know in regard to plastics/Styrofoam, it will virtually never “go away” or properly degrade, especially the bulk of the plastic that rests upon the ocean floor. As a point of fact, it simply keeps growing, and at an alarming rate. We are quite past the point of merely “promoting” communities and citizens to recycle. Any piece of floating trash, Styrofoam or plastic which finds its way to a river will eventually add itself to this environmentally detrimental “sludge” which is now commonly referred to as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.
Let us not waste precious time in the belief that recycling is not incredibly flawed and far from universally employed. Although the amount of plastic bottles recycled in the United States has grown steadily since the year 1990, the recycling percentage rate remains at less than thirty. Even if we reached one hundred percent, how many of the plastic cups, Styrofoam cups, fast food restaurant, convenience store/gas station cup lids and straws, etc… are recycled after being utilized? The answer to that question is next to none and more than likely, a billion of these shreds of plastic are discarded by humans with no chance of recycle, every single day. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, almost four million tons of plastic bags alone, are produced on an annual basis, well over three and one half million tons of which, or some 90 percent, are discarded. This is an absolutely horrifying statistic.
According to several other sources, plastic bag consumption falls in between five hundred billion and one trillion bags annually. That amounts to nearly one million each and every minute. The Wall Street Journal reported that the United States uses roughly one hundred billion plastic shopping bags as retailers across the nation spent four billion dollars annually on the bags, alone. It takes the average American family only a few trips to the grocery store in order to come home with over fifty plastic bags.
When the United Nations came forward with a study in regard to this issue, they reported that each square mile of the ocean has roughly forty-six thousand “pieces” of floating plastic in it. This same study also states that at least ten percent of all plastic produced annually around the world finds its way into the ocean and to reiterate, seventy percent of that plastic will fall to the ocean floor, where it will more than likely never degrade. All of these plastics are noxious to ocean life, and in specific, consider the devastation these degrading chemicals are causing our coral reefs, the cradle of all life on Earth, which can not survive in an acidic environment. When coral reefs are gone, humanity will follow.
We do sympathize with the fact that this is a monumental problem to solve. It is a task which requires all citizens to fully recognize, understand and face the enormity of environmental impact in relation to the issue, then to knowingly sacrifice and act. It is time for us to “step up to the plate” in regard to the devastation we have inflicted upon our planet, for the sake of our children. We have to come to the realization that we are condemning our posterity, not ensuring their continuance. It will be our doing, our very fault and folly, that our grandchildren will suffer, without action and sacrifice from us, right now.
Environmentally conscious people from across the nation will have to stand together, calling for a specific draft in legislation that will, at the very least, propose serious strides toward the end of plastic/Styrofoam with the intent of disposable use, as well as very strict and serious recycling reform. If this must be achieved in steps, then we must take the first one. We can move toward a ban on the use of plastic shopping bags in the United States. We propose the idea that stores should be forced to charge as much or more, for a plastic bag at checkout, as they would for a cloth or “eco-friendly” bag. We find this to be a satisfactory beginning to the “out-phasing” of plastic bag usage in commerce. Our world and our children simply have absolutely no time left for us to delay any longer in regard to this matter.
The AELLA Team
Please sign the petition to Congress HERE.