Midway Atoll

Kaitlyn Zamago, Business Manager

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With a population of 60 people and 2 million birds, Midway Atoll’s biggest threat to all has become plastic.

Each day, plastic has been prevalent in the lives of many. Worldwide, about 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year and only 10% is recycled. Of that 300 million tons, 8 million tons of plastic trash leak into the oceans each year. This adds up to approximately one garbage truck dumping trash into the ocean per minute.

Almost every piece of plastic ever produced still exists today. Everyday items such as water bottles, trash bags, and toothbrushes end up in the oceans. Every hour, 2.5 million plastic bottles are used by Americans alone. It is said that by the year 2050 there will be more pounds of plastic than there are fish in the oceans. An estimated 99% of seabirds will have indigestible plastic trash in their stomach’s by that year.

Midway Atoll is located approximately equidistant between North America and Asia. The population of Midway is 60. Out of those people, around 40 are the US Fish and Wildlife Service staff and their service contractors. 

The trash polluting this Atoll does not come from the people living there, but instead from those thousands of miles away. The city nearest to Midway is Honolulu, located 1,300 miles away. The plastic that ends up in the oceans travels a long distance and washes up on the shorelines of places such as Midway Atoll. Some of the most common places that the trash comes from are China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. These five countries create the most plastic pollution, however, they are not the only places the plastic comes from.

One seabird species that is prevalent in Midway is the Albatross. The Albatross is one of the largest flying birds. It has a wingspan of up to 11 feet and its size is relative to a six-foot man. The average lifespan of an Albatross is 50 years, however, the plastic polluting their homes may cause them to not see this age. About 30 years from now, their diet will likely consist of mainly plastic.

The issue of trash polluting our oceans doesn’t just affect the things living there, it also affects us. Often times, plastic that is produced does not have the ability to biodegrade. This causes it to be broken up into tiny pieces which attract toxins. Since ocean life consume these small pieces of plastic, it can easily be transferred into the food we eat. One could potentially consume up to 11,000 pieces of microplastic each year.

Trying to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the ocean requires effort from many people. One person alone could not solve the problem. It would take many years for the plastic in the oceans to be cleaned up. Even if everyone did everything they could to reduce the amount of plastic use, it would be almost impossible for the plastic in the ocean to be completely gone due to the many years of excessive plastic use. However, it is crucial that everyone tries to do everything they can to reduce the amount of plastic use. If the oceans keep filling with plastic waste, the outcomes can be very damaging to the health of marine life and ourselves.

There are easy ways to help keep our environment clean that involve not using plastic. One simple step is getting rid of plastic water bottles and using reusable ones. Reusable water bottles are a cheaper and healthier alternative than using plastic bottles. Plastic bottles contain chemicals that can negatively affect your health. Filling your reusable water bottle with tap or filtered water is also cheaper than buying plastic bottles. Contrary to popular belief, bottled water is no different than tap water, health-wise. Another way to save plastic is by using reusable shopping bags. A trip to the grocery store consists of many plastic bags being used. Bringing your own bag reusable bags to the store will help save the amount of plastic bags used each day.

Since you began reading this article, about 33,600 pounds of plastic have entered the ocean. The issue of plastic has grown into a major issue and will continue to go downhill from here if patterns continue. It is imperative that we try to use less plastic in order to keep our Earth and the things living on it alive.



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