When Will We Stop Destroying Our Planet?

When Will We Stop Destroying Our Planet?

Get your shit together, humanity.

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Late October, World Wildlife Fund released a devastating story of China's decision to lift a ban of the medicinal use of tiger and rhino bones. As many people are aware, both tigers and rhinos are endangered and the lift of this band is a huge step backward for their species' wellbeing.

This recent report is only one story of many. Hearing the recent report of climate change's impact becoming permanent by 2030 makes me feel hopeless and scared. Knowing that polar bears are starving in their melting environment or that orangutans are dying from deforestations breaks my heart. Watching scientists find whale carcasses filled with plastic or sea turtles with plastic straws lodged in their nostrils tears me apart.

What saddens me most is that all of this is our fault, and nature suffers the consequences. It is our fault, but this is all also preventable and reversible, and yet it only gets worse. It feels like politicians don't care, and that those who have power in the government only benefit from the destruction of Earth's ecosystems. For me, it sometimes feels overwhelming thinking about my part. What can I do? Sometimes it feels as though my actions don't do much in terms of environmental impact, and I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. But people do care about the environment, whether or not they are actively trying to help or not, and that's an important first step. However, we have to take action if we want to see a different outcome.

We need to get our shit together, humanity.

The World Wildlife Fund has said that we are the last generation that can stop climate change and environmental destruction. We need to do everything we can to help our planet. The first change can be simple and easy, such as avoiding plastics like straws or lids. Recycling plastic bags at your local grocery store and opting out for a reusable grocery bag instead. Whether it's eating a more plant-based diet or being more conscious of our individual energy consumption, we have to make a change.

The time is now, because our planet doesn't have much time left for a change.

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

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When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

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Vinicius Amano

@viniciusamano

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#Trashtag Is The One Challenge We Should All Participate In

No matter where you live in the world, litter is most likely a problem around you.

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Being around in this day and age, we have all seen a fair amount of social media-inspired internet challenges, many which go viral. Many of these challenges range from stupid (cinnamon challenge) to really really stupid (the tide pod challenge). These, in turn, caused a lot of health problems (looking at you tide pod) and caused many to find an excuse to look down at the generations below them. Thankfully, it seems that many have started following this new(ish) challenge that is really beneficial to everyone and everything involved.

No matter where you live in the world, litter is most likely a problem around you. Even if not huge in your particular area, most do not go a day without seeing some amount of litter ruining the earth. In fact, about 9 billion tons of garbage ends up in our oceans every year. Thankfully, the newest and one of the most positive challenges of the bunch is called the "Trash Tag" challenge and it's hoping to make our planet a bit cleaner.

It apparently started in 2015, but it just recently picks up headway with many people, mainly teens, participating and showing it to the world. Since last week there have been thousands of posts dedicated to this trash tag challenge all over the world. How it works is someone takes a picture of them in an area filled with trash. Some popular and common locations on social media are trash-filled beaches, roads, and patches of forests. Then when the clean up is complete, take a second picture of the litter lacking landscape you made beautiful and clean again.


https://www.greenmatters.com/p/trashtag-litter-cleanup

This challenge has had an outpouring of positive responses and has inspired others to clean up our earth. Even if many do it just to do the challenge, or do get the likes, each little bit of cleaning greatly impacts our earth and our garbage problem. The more the challenge takes off and spreads, the better the earth will be. This may be one challenge I participate in.

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