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“Please Help Reduce Single-Use Plastic Pollution” by Madelyn Abbott, Biology Major

April 20, 2020

Please Help Reduce Single-Use Plastic Pollution
Madelyn Abbott

Center for Biodiversity and Conservation Research Student Affiliate

The words, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” spoken by Mahatma Gandhi, can have substantial power when considering your role within the environment. Now more than ever, people all over the world are trying to reduce single use plastics to reduce pollution and reduce their carbon footprint.  These plastics pollute our oceans and waterways, being responsible for 60-80% of the debris found there (Molstad, 2018). Not only do they pollute aquatic environments, but they also end up in our landfill’s and may persist for 10’s, 100’s or even 1000’s of years in some cases. The amount of plastics that are thrown away each day is staggering. For example, in 2014, over 103 billion single use plastic bags were discarded (Wagner, 2017), only being used on average for 12 minutes (The Problem With Plastic Bags). 

We might not think of how far our plastic debris travels, but even the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench, hasn’t escaped human pollution. Around 3,500 pieces of manmade items were found on the deep sea floor, 33% of it was micro plastics, and of that, 89% originated from single use plastics (Chiba, 2018). Even if we make sure to recycle or throw away our single use plastics, they can still find their way into our oceans via wind, rivers, sewer pipes and more. Not only does it pollute our lands, but the plastic’s toxins are also released into the marine environment, which may enter oceanic food chains, affect marine organisms, and may result in human consumption of compounds originating from plastics.  

Cutting back on your personal plastic use may seem insignificant, but if amplified by millions of environmentally minded people, the results could change the world. If businesses, big or small, make the decision to eliminate single use plastics and find environmentally friendly alternatives, the impact would be immeasurable. All around the world, every day, people make a decision on what products they use. Be the person to choose one that will better the world around you, for yourself, for others, and for future generations. A quote to keep in mind: “The strongest governments on earth cannot clean up pollution by themselves. They must rely on each ordinary person, like you and me, on our choices, and on our will.” 
         -Chai Jing



Chiba, Sanae, et al. “Human Footprint in the Abyss: 30 Year Records of Deep-Sea Plastic Debris.” Marine Policy, Pergamon, 2018,

Molstad, Emily Paige, et al. “Reducing Single-Use Plastic in a Thai School Community: A Sociocultural Investigation in Bangkok, Thailand.” Digital WPI, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 2018,

Wagner, Travis P. “Reducing Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags in the USA.” Waste Management, Pergamon, 2017,

“The Problem with Plastic Bags.” 10 Facts About Single-Use Plastic