A biocide is occurring amongst society today. The victims of this don’t have a voice and don’t deserve their fate. This tale is in comparison to the Dr. Seuss children’s book, The Lorax. So just as the Lorax spoke for the trees, I speak for the fish, sea mammals, birds, turtles and countless other marine wildlife that have become subject to the danger of plastics.
Hundreds of species of birds, such as the Albatross species of Midway, get their necks caught in the plastic separators used on six packs of soda cans and choke to death. Just as the character Lovelace from the Pixar film “Happy Feet”, animals suffer elongated pain as their airways are constricted by the plastic, eventually suffocating them. In the movie, Lovelace is saved from this fate, but for many of these Albatross birds they are not so lucky. On average 40 percent of newborn chicks die every year because of the 150 plus tons of plastics washed upon the Midway beaches.
A small turtle, named Peanut, was found with a six pack separator wrapped around the turtle’s shell, making his shell form a figure eight. As the turtle grew around the plastic his organs began to fail. This same process happens to other turtles and tortoises. Animals such as the Hawaiian monk seal and the Pacific loggerhead sea turtle have actually become endangered because of plastic entanglement from the waste.
Animals ingest much of the plastic particles, mistaking them as food. When they eat this plastic it disrupts their digestive system, and they also absorb the chemicals, such as Bisphenol A, that are found in the plastic. Bisphenol A affects their reproductive abilities as well as causes hormonal imbalances. According to Animal Friends Corotia, tens of thousands of animals die every year because of entanglement and ingestion of this plastic waste.
A research team, headed by Chelsea Rochman and Mark Anthony Browne in February of this year, found the benefits for changing the classification of some plastics to become classified as hazardous materials. In declaring certain plastics hazardous they hope it will cause companies to look to safer alternatives for fear of the tax that is attached to hazardous material production because of the Comprehensive Environmental Response legislation.
We as consumers also need to take it upon ourselves to refrain from using plastics wastefully. We need to take small steps such as using reusable water bottles and brown-biodegradable grocery bags. We must also encourage endeavors such as declaring plastic a hazardous material because of the benefits that will come from it.
The Lorax book ends with the Once-ler giving Ted a single truffula seed because all the truffula trees have been cut down. Does it take a desolate ocean to open our eyes to the destruction that is caused by this plastic pollution? The answer should be no, we need to act now.
Author: Ashley Casper, Provo