How Can Desert Kids Make a Difference in the Ocean?
By Sophie Wolff, age 13
Have you ever experienced an “ah-ha” moment? Recently, I realized I could make a change that was bigger than just my community. I recognized that simple changes in my life could make a huge impact on the Earth, and if I could inspire other kids to make small changes too, the impact would be massive!
I didn’t truly understand the dangers of plastic until I studied ecology in my seventh-grade science class. My teacher, Mrs. Tincher, showed us a documentary called Plastic Paradise. Just like me, many of my classmates were caught off-guard when they realized plastic never really goes away!
How to Help the Environment
Our teacher showed us different ways we could help the environment. Simple things can make a difference, like using canvas bags at the supermarket instead of plastic bags, and carrying a metal water bottle instead of a plastic one.
When we use a plastic bag or cup or straw, we don’t think much of it. It’s the convenience of just grabbing a straw, then throwing it away when you’re done. We don’t think about the fact that one million plastic bags are used every minute and a half billion plastic straws are used every day in the U.S! When I heard these statistics, I was shocked.
The Beloved Ocean
I have always been a person who loves the ocean. My grandpa has a beach house in Oceanside, Calif., and I love visiting. When I was little, my grandpa would call me an “ocean baby” because I loved the ocean and marine life. Unfortunately, until this year I don’t think I was treating the ocean with enough respect. Now I realize that my personal changes can make a difference in the environment.
For years, I heard plastic straws were bad for sea creatures, but I didn’t realize how extreme it really was for the animals. Fish consume so much plastic every day because beach-goers don’t pick up their trash. When birds eat the fish, they are also consuming the plastic. This moves up the food chain and impacts a great number of animals, causing distress and even death.
Many people in Arizona believe that because we don’t live near the coast, we shouldn’t worry about polluting the ocean. But, I’ve learned if everybody makes small changes, we will leave Earth in a much healthier place than we found it.
If kids in my generation keep spreading awareness about the dangers of plastic, more people will be willing to make positive changes for our Earth. I sometimes hear kids my age say they can’t change the world, or that one kid can’t make a difference, but minimizing the amount of plastic we use on a daily basis will make a short- and long-term difference. Your small change can help so much. I have a goal to educate kids younger than me about the negative effects of plastic on our Earth and in our oceans. Children are the future and can make a huge change in Earth’s sustainability. Saying no to a plastic straw or lid at a restaurant is such a simple thing, and using plexiglass straws and canvas grocery bags helps, too. The faster we all start going green, the better!
Sophie is an eighth-grader from Peoria. She was recently nominated the student body president at her school and in her free time she likes to do volunteer work with the National Charity League, Arrowhead chapter. Sophie has a passion for conservation and encouraging others to reduce their ecological footprint.