Scientists in the Field
Spiral Notebook
Dolphin Video Part 3: A Trashy Sermon
by Loree Burns
February 1, 2013
 
Dolphin Video Part 3: A Trashy Sermon
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You can read the first part of this three-part entry here.

And you can read the second part here.

This is a hard video to respond to, because I can’t do it without getting all preachy about plastic. You’ve been warned …

The sad truth is that our oceans have a plastic problem. There is a lot of it out there, and it’s hurting animals. Sadder still, at least for me, is that humans are responsible for it. Dolphins and sea turtles haven’t created the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, we have. It’s our stuff that’s dropped or pulled or swept into the ocean. Ours.

So what can we do about it?

First and foremost, we can make better choices about the plastic in our lives. Sometimes plastic is useful and necessary; the plastic container that I use to store sandwiches in on the days I work in schools is perfect for the job of keeping my sandwich safe and dry for a few hours. And I’ve been using the same container since I was a kid. (I am not kidding. The Tupperware sandwich container in that photo is at least 30 years old!)  I could use a plastic baggie instead, of course, but think about it: I only need the sandwich held for a couple hours—from the time I make it in the morning until the time I eat it in the afternoon. Why use a bag that will sit in a landfill for the rest of my life, and probably for the rest of my children’s lives, and likely for the rest of their children’s lives too.  Why?

It comes down to the four Rs: Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. If we all spent a little more time on the first, refusing plastic that we don’t really need, there would be a heck of a lot less plastic in landfills and in our ocean. And while that may not prevent dolphins from getting snagged on fishing lines, it will certainly make their home a cleaner and safer place to live.

There are other things you can do to help reduce the ocean plastic problem, and I write about a few in Tracking Trash. But you can find a whole lot more at the website of the Plastic Pollution Coalition. Don’t miss this bit of inspiration from musician Jack Johnson or this presentation by Beth Terry, a gal who has made a serious commitment to refusing single-use disposable plastics.

 

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About Loree Burns

Loree Griffin Burns, Ph.D. lives, writes, and watches bees in central Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband and three children. You can visit her at www.loreeburns.com. She is the author of the award-winning Scientists in the Field titles Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion and The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe.  Her next Scientists in the Field book is about beetles and trees.

 

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