Professor Marilyn Brock
4 May 2015
A Call to Action: Plastic Pollution
In the time it takes for me to read this sentence, more than 5,300 pounds of plastic will have entered the world's oceans. That's 2.4 million pounds an hour, every hour of every day (Chris Jordan, Running The Numbers). Plastic pollution is one of the most widespread problems our world is facing the devastating consequences of, and chances are, you don't know much about it. Worldwide production of plastic is at almost 300 million tons annually, and if we continue at the pace we are going, by the year 2030 we will be producing 2 trillion pounds a year (Waste Watch). With a mere 5% of plastics being recycled annually, the pollution problem will be exponentially catastrophic unless we begin to change our ways. Today I will talk about the size and depth of the plastic pollution problem we are facing, the harms that come from plastics, why we are failing to solve the problem of plastic pollution, and finally how we can solve the problem of plastic pollution with diligent efforts and new attitudes.
Size of the Problem
The problem of plastic pollution is incomprehensibly massive. It is now believed that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. In 2008, our global plastic consumption had been estimated at 260 million tons, and according to a 2013 report by Global Industry Analysts, plastic consumption was projected to reach over 300 million tons this year (The Great Plastic Tide). According to the Environmental Protective Agency of the United States, over 32 million tons of plastic waste was generated by the US alone, and furthermore, only nine percent of that waste was recycled (Plastic Common Wastes and Materials). To illustrate the size of the problem even further, 500 billion plastic bags are consumed each year which equates to over 150 bags for every single person on this earth, every single year. In California alone, over...