I apologize that I have not been able to post in awhile. Preparing to return to school, on top of all of the other events of the summer, has hindered my ability to get on here as much as I would like. Hopefully all of that will change in the upcoming weeks as everything winds down!
My second blog post, and it’s about… cups? I suppose so!
It is no secret that litter has plagued our planet for almost as long as man has inhabited it. However, do we truly understand what it is doing to the wildlife around us? There is truth behind saying that we do not truly understand how our actions effect the world around us. As I mentioned in my last post, our “out-of site, out-of-mind” policy is the largest detriment to our planet.
Among the litter that has plagued our planet, some takes the cake for “most detrimental”. Plastic, styrofoam, aluminum, and even the common cigarette butt are extremely slow to degrade. Environment Ohio writes: aluminum could take up to 100 years to degrade, a cigarette butt up to 5, a paper bag up to nearly two months, and styrofoam up to 500 years. Yes, you read that right. 500 years. Even more terrifying, some styrofoam NEVER degrades.
Imagine the headlines that could’ve been! “Styrofoam Cup Found Off the Coast of the Atlantic: Coffee Confirmed to have been Sipped by Christopher Columbus.”
Yet, we do not see these headlines. Columbus’s gas-station coffee cup is not on display in a National Museum. Is this because they did not have styrofoam to dispose of, or that they simply had more regard for the planet that they lived on back then? I would venture to say that the answer is: “A little bit of both.” Though you would have had to have the styrofoam for it to end up as litter, you get my point.
Environment Ohio, again, informs that scientists have found some sort of plastic or styrofoam fragments in 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species, and 43% of all marine mammal species. Since these animals are not able to break these things down, they often end up starving as a result of a blocked digestive track.
It does not stop there, however. Think logically for a minute. If the animals and fish that we eat are ingesting these materials, then are we not inadvertently ingesting the same toxins? Animals and fish are not suddenly rid of all toxins as soon as they are pulled from their habitat and processed for consumption. So, if you are not a selfless person willing to save the environment because it is the right thing to do, be a selfish person. The food that you eat is not anywhere near as clean as it could be because we, as humans, have made it that way. Self-sabotage, you say?
Environment Ohio calls for 25 states to ban take-out foam cups and containers. This is half of the states in the entire country. (Law students can still do math? Who knew?)
Plastic companies do not like this idea (obviously). So they have fought it since its suggestion. Why let something that is so easily disposable to us become another living thing’s death sentence? We may be at the top of the food chain, but we forget that this is not our world. We’re just living in it.
Nearly 200 cities have made the choice to ban plastic and styrofoam use. I do not think that it is too much to ask for others to do the same. Why do we consciously make the decision to use something for five minutes that could sit on our planet for hundreds of years? Is it the ease? Is it the mindless acceptance that the future is too far away to care about now?
Your children’s children’s children could find a styrofoam cup that you threw out of your car window one day because you didn’t want to wait to get to a trashcan. They could find an aluminum can that you crushed and didn’t want to pick up, or maybe an empty coffee cup that flew off of the table while you were setting up for the annual family picnic.
The legacy that we leave can be so much more than the pollution that already plagues this Earth. We, as humans, are the only ones that can make the decision to make the change.
Laws are being passed, and the legal field is attempting to restore our environment. Slowly, but somewhat surely, we may reach a different mindset. One person changing their lifestyle is better than none, so make the conscious decision to change if need be. Help the lawmakers fight against the companies that are fighting against a better future. As usual, everything comes full circle. The sooner we start having that mindset, the sooner things will change for the better.
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