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Plastic might be convenient, but is it worth it?

plastic microbeadsPlastic is everywhere in our lives these days. Water bottles, microbead skin products, disposable razors, shopping bags, and red solo cups.  It’s amazing how much of this ends up in the water systems, my dear Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean.

When debris like these end up in the system, they all get pulled around by the currents–typically ending up in the same place, if not in an animal’s throat or around their neck first. This place is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This “patch” is more than twice the size of Texas. It’s not surprising considering a study released in 2015 estimates that 8.8 million tons of plastic waste ended up in the ocean in the year 2010 and a more recent study in 2018 estimates the accumulation is 79,000 metric tons of plastic, consisting of 1.8 trillion individual pieces. I keep having this nightmare that the garbage patch is going to grow until the whole Earth is one large garbage patch!

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Before we get to that point, too many animals will die from plastic. In 2013 in Spain, scientists found a dead whale, whose cause of death was intestinal blockage. The digestive system contained 59 pieces of plastic waste totaling 37 pounds in weight. Sea turtles are now ingesting twice the plastic they were 25 years ago. In total, it is estimated that plastic ingestion kills 1 MILLION marine birds and 1 HUNDRED THOUSAND marine animals every single year!

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Other than ingestion, plastic can also ruin an animal’s life by tangling them up; this can make movement and growth difficult or impossible. Some species happen to inhabit areas where plastic pollution is more of a problem, causing them to be more susceptible to entanglements and ingestion caused by plastic. This fact proves true for species like the Hawaiian monk seal, which swim and feed in areas close to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

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Not only can plastic hurt them in its full state, but also in later states. Although plastic does not biodegrade, it does break down and the chemicals that break down impact animals as well. The toxic chemicals really mess with the hormones of marine animals. In the long term, this can affect humans as well because many people are consuming the animals affecting by these pollutants.

 

So what can you do?

Of course, recycling can be a big help and not littering, but the only way to completely prevent these problems is by decreasing your plastic consumption. The best thing you can do is to completely eliminate plastic from your life! Convenience is not worth possibly living on a garbage planet.

Another great way to help is to pick up trash before it makes its way to the ocean like this inspirational guy!

Importance of Biodiversity and 5 Steps You Can Do

Currently, I’m in the Boone area of North Carolina for the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.  This is my ninth time at the games celebrating my heritage and the Cameron Clan.


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Grandfather Mountain in the background of me wearing my Cameron kilt


Being up here, it hasn’t just been age-old Scottish traditions that have amazed me.  The biodiversity on this mountain is utterly amazing.

Grandfather Mountain reaches a height of 5,946 ft.  The mountain is estimated to be 300 million years old.  A third of the mountain is operated as a scenic travel attraction by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, Inc, which is a great organization that funnels all proceeds into preserving the mountain.  This third includes the mile high swinging bridge.


the mile high swinging bridge on an especially foggy 4th of July


The other two thirds of Grandfather Mountain is owned by the state of North Carolina.  This area is wild and undeveloped, which is great!  Accessible only on foot, visitors to Grandfather Mountain State Park can hike several miles of rugged alpine trails that lead across or around rock walls.  I like to believe that I am one of the rare people who have touched every square inch of that mountain!


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one of a few bears near the museum at Grandfather Mountain


Through my many hikes, jogs, and strolls, I’ve found more animals and plants than I even knew existed on Earth.  This variety of life is referred to as “Biodiversity” and is being threatened by human activity.  Thinking about this reality up on the Mountain really breaks my heart.  Every form of life on our planet is unique and deserves respect regardless of its worth (or lack thereof) to human beings.  Humankind is part of nature and the natural world is priceless to humans.  As the human population is increasing, there exists insatiable demand for raw materials, which directly causes decreases in biodiversity.  It is therefore vital to control human consumption and conserve biodiversity.

What can you do?

  1. Reduce (or eliminate) pesticide and fertilizer usage
  2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – of course
  3. Composting – also reduces what goes to the landfill and a safer alternative to fertilizers
  4. Eat local produce and incorporate meatless meals if you don’t already!
  5. Reduce car-use — biking, walking, car-pooling, riding public transportation, or even a more fuel efficient car can do a lot of good

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remember to not only be careful on this rugged mountain, but to also be careful with this rugged mountain