The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

we need to take responsibility instead of passing it down to our children, as others before us have.
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Every year we produce about three million tons of plastic. Our economy grew rapidly in the last 25 years and now thrives off of cheap packaging. If you want to eat a biscuit nowadays, we have to buy a biscuit within a plastic wrapper, within a plastic tray, within a cardboard box, within some plastic foil within a plastic bag. People need to be educated on where this plastic goes when we are done with it, what effects this plastic has, as well as what is being done about this topic.

When issues of pollution arise, the main response is to leave the solution to our children. Well, here we are, and it is time to bring awareness to this issue.

Where does this plastic go when we are done with it?

Approximately 1,000 plastic bottles are wasted into our bodies of water per second. These rivers, streams, and channels lead to the ocean. The plastic debris primarily collect at these five rotating currents, called the gyers, where it doesn’t only directly kill sea life, but due to the absorption of PCBs and DDTs, also poisons the food chain… a food chain that includes us- humans. I would like to place emphasis on the North Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Researcher Charles Moore discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and describes this island of plastic as twice the size of Texas. In this gyre, plastic outnumbers sea life 6-1. Moore also estimates that there is 7.25 million tons of extractable plastic in the top layers of the gyre. That is the weight of 1,000 Eiffel towers floating in the ocean.

What are the effects of plastic in the ocean?

Most effects are unfortunately negative. It is approximated that one million seabirds and one hundred thousand marine mammals die yearly from ocean plastic pollution. According to a study done by aerospace engineer, environmentalist, and Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, nearly all Laysam albatross chick- 97.5 percent to be exact already have pieces of plastic already in their stomachs; their parents feed them plastic particles that they mistake for food.

When turtles ingest plastic, they bring a false sensation of satiation that slows and has the possibility of halting reproduction. Plastic also warps their bodies until they die.

Approximately 2.5 billion people rely on fish for at least 20 percent of the protein they get from animals. As I mentioned before, synthetic chemicals in plastic including PBCs and DDTs are absorbed by the ocean, which increases the concentration by a million times.

These toxins are quickly absorbed into the marine food chain, which becomes an issue when fish in the north pacific ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic per year. Economically, plastic pollution causes over an estimated $13 billion globally each year. These plastics also cause an approximate $1.27 billion in the United States for fishing/vessel repairs alone.

What is being done about this?

Aggressive actions are currently taking place to either clean the ocean or prevent further pollution. EcoCortec is a company based in Beli Manastir, Croatia, and they have come up with a solution to prevent future pollution. According to EcoCortec, its ‘EcoOcean’ flexible packaging, produced from material made with the latest bio-based PHA polymer technology, is fully marine biodegradable. Even though that this may seem like a feasible solution, manufacturers are quick to point out that marine biodegradable does not necessarily mean marine disposable.

Scientists in Britain and the Netherlands have proposed the idea to cut out plastic pollution by the institution of a “circular economy." The basic idea of this concept is that products must be designed with the “end-of-life” reclamation in mind. In the United States, specifically in California, focus has been placed on “structural controls”. This means the covering of gutters and catch basins with screens.

Instead of going out and trying to clean the ocean from plastic, most specifically the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Boyan Slat considers that we let the ocean clean itself. More specifically, he claims in his TedTalk, “why move through the oceans, when the oceans can move through you”? By attaching many floating barriers with platforms to the seabed, the plastic can be concentrated in one place to make for easier extraction. This process is all natural, as ocean currents and winds dictate it.

Another benefit of Slat’s cleanup process is that the probability of by-catch is limited to almost 0 percent, because “… no nets are used, so entanglement is virtually impossible." This claim is supported by the fact that almost all of the ocean currents flow beneath the surface, meaning that they flow beneath the floating booms, which would remove all “neutrally buoyant organisms, preventing by-catch, while the lighter-than-water plastic collects in front of the floating barrier.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is something that everyone needs to be aware of, as we need to take responsibility instead of passing it down to our children, as others before us have.



Cover Image Credit: themillenniumreport.com

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

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Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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