Plastic bags epidemic means our oceans are dying

Posted: Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Right now the world's oceans are in pretty bad shape. The lack of awareness of the importance oceans play in the world is one reason why mankind has allowed them to become so polluted. Oceans supply earthlings with 85 percent of our oxygen, says Sylvia Earle, former director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Plastics are finding their way to the oceans and are breaking (apart, not down) into bite-sized tasty delights that look like zooplankton, seriously maiming the energy flow of the oceanic food webs and sneaking into our own food intake, causing a chain reaction of death and devastation. Birds and animals are dying - choked to death on plastic litter.

Our oceans are dying.

It is my opinion that the people of the world are experiencing a loss of connection to nature, and it is this dearth of respect toward nature that is causing all that is sad and wrong on our planet (particularly war, torture and the mistreatment of animals). Fortunately, we are finally in a place where we can reach out to one another - from Russia to Timbuktu - through communication and a philosophical understanding of the nature of humanity. Gandhi said it best when he stated that service toward others is our primary moral duty. In this we are meant to commune with nature (we are nature!), not consume all of nature.

The plastic bag epidemic (and overuse of plastics in general) is one manifestation of this disconnect with nature. Let's cut back on our plastic bag use and learn to reduce, reuse and recycle to help our oceans. When I go shopping, I like to take my backpack and my fun, turquoise, cotton bag that I got in Tahiti. That way I only buy what I need, while reminiscing on how absolutely gorgeous the beaches of Tahiti are. Try it. You will undoubtedly enjoy a feeling of resourcefulness and self-sufficiency. See how many plastic bags you won't collect. It's absolutely amazing.

Another way you can help is to participate in the International Coastal Clean-Up, organized by the Ocean Conservancy and NOAA, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Volunteers will team up to pick up and categorize trash found at Sandy Beach, Auke Village Recreation Area and Sunshine Cove. Contact Lissa Kramer for more information at 586-1322, or e-mail

• Cachet Garrett is a senior at the University of Alaska Southeast and a member the environmental group Turning the Tides. She can be reached at

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