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a plastic ocean

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  Jasmine Gallaway Mrs. K LBST 2301 9/24/2018 The documentary  A Plastic Ocean  explores the facts about plastic waste in the ocean. This film starts out as an innocent watching for pygmy and true blue whales in the Indian Ocean. Then the documentary enters into its main concern of large amount of plastic drifting in the ocean.  A Plastic Ocean  presented the content and facts of the issue effectively.  A Plastic Ocean  tackles the amount, its adverse effects on life on Earth, and solutions that the average person could perform. “About 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the world’s oceans every year”,  (Leeson, C.) . In Craig Leeson’s film he presents staggering numerical statistics of the plastic pollution. Throughout the film these small pieces of information appear on screen as the narrator explains them. Not only is the overproduction of plastics getting into the oceans but most plastics are not disposed of properly and can end up making the ground that people stand on such as with the Smokey Mountains in Manila, Philippines. The images from the film truly emphasize how out of hand this disposal problem has gotten in lower social economic areas. Children in this area will scavenge all day to find plastics to recycle and will receive 150 pesos for their hard day of work (Leeson, C.) This would be an example of classicism discussed in lecture. Classicism is the idea that people of lower income areas experience more environmental damages as they do not have the monetary power to participate in ideas such as “not in my backyard”. Usually the term for this environmental unfairness is environmental racism but classicism applies more to the  communities present in the film. The multiple examples of low income communities living with  piling trash or using the plastic to cook are some of the terrible effects of the overproduction of  plastics. Plastics are not truly disposable as they are made with phthalates which is the chemicals in plastic that make it have a flexible, transparent, and durable composition (Leeson, C.).  Not only is the sheer amount of plastic bad for the environment but it is also terrible for the living beings on Earth. “More than 2.6 billion people depend on the ocean for their primary source of protein”. This is more than a third of the human population who relies on the ocean , who needs potable water and food sources. Many of these people among coastal areas use the ocean for sources of income which with the large amount of micro plastics ingested by wildlife, fish cannot be sold to market (Leeson, C.). Micro plastics occurs from the breakdown of larger  plastics due to natural forces such as sunlight, waves, and salt (Leeson, C.). With the over  pollution of plastics many harmful chemicals are ingested into the human system. PlastiPure and its partner CertiChem analyze the components of packaging material to research which products have estrogenic activity (Envision Creative). Estrogenic activity (EA) can mimic natural body hormones production which can harm the endocrine system of the human body (Leeson, C.). These sources are credible as they explain peer-reviewed research articles on their website. The effect of EA’s on the endocrine system can stunt the growth of a human. Another worrying statistic from the documentary is “In the Western Mediterranean, recent figures show a 1 to 2 ratio of plastic to plankton”  (Leeson, C.). This is an alarming ratio as plankton is the bottom of the food chain for oceanic ecosystems, meaning there must be a large population of them. Some of this statistic could be blown out of proportion considering that the non-disposable plastics can  breakdown into many pieces of micro plastics. The extreme amount of plastic in the oceans was documented by Tracey Road, who observes some of the stomach contents of coastal sea birds. In  the film she mentions that the record for the most pieces of plastic that she found in the gut of a shearwater is 276. The dead shearwater that she opens up in the documentary is only ninety day old and had ingested 234 pieces of plastic, which turns out to be 15% of the body weight of that  bird (Leeson, C.). This first hand example demonstrated displayed a large array of sizes of plastic all of which were stiff in the bird’s stomach. The amount of plastic and the blockage that it caused in the bird’s intestinal system can lead to malnutrition which is probably how the bird died (Leeson, C.).There are plenty of harmful effects to both humans and wildlife due to the over  production and improper disposal of plastics. The final idea that the film executed properly is how as humans we can make a change. There was a scientist in the film that mentioned how the shear amount of plastics cannot be removed but this entails instead a change in human behavior (Leeson, C.). Tanya Streeter is a  prime example of how people can make changes in their daily lives to reduce the amount of non-disposable plastic in our households. She with her family, wash out plastic bags in order to be reused and instead of using plastic wrap to maintain freshness of foods they opt to use foil (Leeson, C.). There is a statistic mentioned on screen in the film that says most packaging materials is the main component of municipal trash and the lifetime of this packaging, and additionally plastic bags, is about 15 minutes (Leeson, C.) The human race over produces these toxic materials only to use them for 15 minutes while they last lifetimes in the environment. This usage time is insensible and wasteful but most products today have some form of plastic in the containment of everyday items. Craig Leeson in the film experimentally tested how many food industry places offered an alternative to the plastic. Most except two did not have alternative options. Craig Leeson then goes on to suggest that consumers should discuss with their local  shops and demand plastic-free options (Leeson, C.). While changing human behavior is difficult it is not impossible to do and the human race should strive to improve our habits. After the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of mass production, plastic usage has skyrocketed. This over production of durable plastic is detrimental to the environment, people, and all other organisms on the Earth. This documentary is successful in properly explaining all the effects of plastics and provides some solutions to the global issue. Craig Leeson is a fourth generation journalist which means he may have a slight bias but essentially made this film to raise awareness of our deadly habits (Leeson, C.).
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