Step 1 - Our dependence on plastic and the damage it causes
Plastic is a toxic material that is severely affecting marine creatures and the marine ecosystems and ultimately humans. We only see the stuff that floats. But it can sink and/or float depending on the environmental conditions of the ocean. Because the specific gravity of much of it is roughly that of the ocean water, it can rise in rough seas and sink during the calms. Sunlight, which has very limited penetration in the water, breaks it down into continuously smaller particles until it reaches molecular size. Some of the plastic debris has taken a fifty-year voyage in violent seas since it was first produced. And it doesn’t appear to be breaking down into something that is even close to the natural materials of the earth they once came from.
Over a few decades, humans have managed to dump tons upon tons of garbage into the ocean. Of the most devastating elements of this pollution is that plastics takes thousands of years to decay. As a result, fish and wildlife are becoming intoxicated. Consequently the toxins from the plastics have entered the food chain, threatening human health. In the most polluted places in the ocean, the mass of plastic exceeds the amount of plankton six times over. This is a large piece of evidence that leaves the problem of polluted oceans undeniable.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also know as the Pacific Trash Vortex or gyre, is located in the central North Pacific Ocean and is larger than the state of Texas. There are also garbage patches in the Indian and Atlantic ocean. The patches are defined as containing a higher amount of plastic as compared to surrounding oceans. To date, five patches in total have been discovered. As far as plastic entering the ocean, about 20% of the trash comes from ships and platforms that are offshore. The rest sources from litter being blown into the sea, picked up by tides on the beach, or intentional garbage dumping. The worse part is, these plastics don't biodegrade, so they brake up into tiny pieces that are consumed by fish and sea mammals. Plastic is killing more than 100,000 sea turtles and birds a year from ingestion and entanglement. Chemicals in plastics are released into the water as well as the atmosphere. Fish easily become contaminated from the chemicals in the water.
Different plastics spread throughout the ocean. As Styrofoam breaks into smaller parts, polystyrene components in it sink lower in the ocean, so that the pollutant spreads throughout the sea column. In fact, not only do the toxins in plastic effect the ocean, but acting like sponges, they soak up other toxins from outside sources before entering the ocean. As these chemicals are ingested by animals in the ocean, this is not good for humans. We as humans ingest contaminated fish and mammals.