Plastic Pollution Engulfing the Caribbean!

Plastic Pollution engulfing the Caribbean!

In 2017 Caroline Powers an avid underwater photographer who has devoted her career towards capturing the worlds oceans and the adverse affects of plastic pollution released a series of photos taken between the islands of Roatan and Cayos Cochinos, off the coast of Honduras that confirms plastic pollution is consuming our oceans and destroying its precious ecosystems.

Devastated by the vast amount of garbage she witnessed (plastic bags, water bottles, single use plastic utensils, etc.), Powers described the area as a “sea of human waste, slowing choking the ocean surface” (Malloy, 2017). Powers goes on to explain that this isn’t just a “third world” problem but also a “first world” problem, and the only way to stop trash from entering our oceans is by stopping it before it gets there (Malloy, 2017).

 

Caroline Power captured a shocking sea of plastic floating near the Caribbean island of Roatan CREDIT: CAROLINE POWER PHOTOGRAPHY

According to John Hourston, Founder of Blue Planet Society, this is the first time attention has been drawn to the plastic pollution problem in the Caribbean Sea (McCarthy, 2017). The photos taken by Powers portrays a two mile stretch of the Caribbean Sea covered in a plastic blanket of trash with micro plastic particles slowly infiltrating the water which will later be consumed by marine life that have mistaken the waste as a food source.

How does this happen and why? There are many contributing factors to ocean plastic pollution and the root cause is simple yet complex. At the most basic level this sea of trash accumulated as a result of poor waste management programs, lack of global recycling policies, and education. In most third world countries like Honduras and Guatemala trash is dumped near the riverbeds, as no formal waste management programs exist. Secondly due to the tropical climate of these two countries flash floods and natural disasters contribute to carrying this discarded waste into the rivers and out to the Caribbean Sea. Since shedding light on the subject in 2017 both the Honduras and Guatemalan government have committed to taken action against further pollution but the problem is the damage is already done.

Caroline Power captured a shocking sea of plastic floating near the Caribbean island of Roatan CREDIT: CAROLINE POWER PHOTOGRAPHY

Ocean plastic pollution is not something new, its just finally people are starting to listen as they witness or look through photographs that have drawn awareness to the massive destruction “we” humans have created. Billions of pounds of plastic can be found throughout the ocean surfaces globally, covering about 40% of the world’s ocean surfaces (Center for Biological Diversity, 2018). Marine and wildlife commonly mistake ocean plastics as a food source (plastic bags, netting, straws, etc.), which ultimately pollutes the food chain and eventually is ingested by humans. These micro plastic particles are highly toxic and have been linked to endocrine disorders and cancer-causing mutations (Center for Biological Diversity, 2018).

In efforts to regulate plastics the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the EPA in 2012 to add plastics as a pollutant under the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act is a law that protects water quality and by curbing plastic pollution under this act it will allow states to establish policies that will regulate the amount of plastic pollution dumped into landfills and oceans. 

What can we do? As good stewards of oceans and planet earth we can take a few simple steps to embark on minimal plastic lifestyle by making a few simple changes.

  • Ditch the Plastic Bag– Instead use a reusable bag or load a trunk organizer into your car for transporting groceries. Most European countries require you to carry your own bag or you are out the expense of purchasing a reusable bag from them.
  • Reusable Water Bottle– You can prevent plastic pollution by using a reusable water bottle and in times of events fill up a larger reusable container for refilling bottles. In some coffee shops/restaurants you can even bring in your reusable container for a discount on a beverage!
  • Take a Second Look at the Garbage Can – If you really take the time you can eliminate ½ of your trash by recycling it. I mean really look at every aspect (Plastic Example: Water bottles, shopping bags, plastic containers, tabs from clothing, single use utensils, chip bags, bread bags, etc.). When you take the extra time to rethink your trash, you might be surprised by how much is actual waste verse recyclables and compostable. 

Here at Trash Swag Inc., we are on a mission to draw awareness to plastic pollution by educating and designing amazing apparel that makes an impact. We only have one planet earth and one place to call home, so we believe that doing good starts with the decisions we make today so that we have a future tomorrow.

 

Written By: Desiree McLaughlin 08/10/18

Trash Swag Inc., proudly pledges 5% of profits earned to the Ocean Conservancy.

 

References

[Photograph]. Retrieved from http://Caroline Power captured a shocking sea of plastic floating near the Caribbean island of Roatan CREDIT: CAROLINE POWER PHOTOGRAPHY

Center for Biological Diversity. (2018). Ocean Plastics Pollution. Retrieved August 8, 2018, from https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/

Malloy, M. (2017, October 26). Shocking photo shows Caribbean Sea being 'choked to death by human waste'. Retrieved August 8, 2018, from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/26/shocking-photo-shows-caribbean-sea-choked-death-human-waste/

McCarthy, J. (2017, October 27). Shocking Photos Show Extent of Plastic Pollution in Caribbean. Retrieved August 8, 2018, from https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/photos-plastic-pollution-caribbean-sea/

Powers, C. (2017). Caroline Power captured a shocking sea of plastic floating near the Caribbean island of Roatan CREDIT: CAROLINE POWER PHOTOGRAPHY[Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/26/shocking-photo-shows-caribbean-sea-choked-death-human-waste/

 


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