Plastics: A Prognosis on Plastic Pollution-We Have a Ways to Go San Diego

High Tech High Blog Series: Blog 3 of 7

What are the sources of pollution?plastic-bottle-of-water-s

To understand the problem with plastic pollution, a group of students researched the common sources and effects of plastic pollution. As a result of their research, they found that 90 percent of the ocean’s trash is actually plastic. Research shows that 80 percent of the marine debris, including plastics, comes from land while 20 percent comes from boats. The most common sources of this pollution are disposable plastics like bags and bottles, and fishing gear that come from ships. 

What are the effects?

The students discovered that the problem with plastic pollution is that the plastics last forever-this means the plastic continues to pollute the environment at every stage of its existence. Because of this, the ecosystem of the ocean, animals, and people are affected negatively. Animals can accidentally ingest or get entangled in plastics, leading to fatal results, while the marine debris in the ocean can harm the aquatic vegetation or suffocate coral.

dsc 2788-sHow can it be fixed?

After finding out how plastic pollution can have negative impacts on the environment, the students moved on to figuring out how people today could fix the problem:

1. Find alternative to plastics, like reusable bags and water bottles

2. Throw away or recycle plastics and trash properly rather than litter

3. Participate in beach cleanups

                                                                                 4. Support single-use plastic bag bans

 What has been done so far?

 Beach cleanup data from Coastkeeper beach cleanups suggests that a lot of the trash that was picked up was plastic. Because plastic is non-biodegradable, it will only keep breaking down into microscopic pieces in the ocean, making it much harder to actually clean up all of the plastic in the ocean. Also, the borken down plastic begin to resemble plankton, a common food source for marine life. So by completing these beach cleanups every year, more of the plastic that ends up on the beach can be picked up before it ends up in the ocean to break down and further pollute the environment. 

To research and help prevent further pollution, a class of 50+ students from High Tech High school in Point Loma, California teamed up with San Diego Coastkeeper® to conduct the “Oceans Away Project,” a project designed to help inform the public of the consequences of their daily actions.