What Everyone Ought to Know About Plastic
The flexible, versatile, inexpensive, durable, lightweight material that lines the shelves of toy stores and preserves snacks in our pantries has too easily made its way to the shores of our most treasured beaches.
The plastic waste that covers our sea shores also pours into our oceans in millions of metric tons every year. According to a study published by UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, the amount of waste thrown into our waters annually in the year 2025 will be enough to cover each foot of coastline in the entire world with ten bags full of plastic.
We have the responsibility to reverse this crisis globally, but on a tiny island like Roatan, the effects of pollution are felt that much more severely. Without urgent action, the reef and its unbelievable marine wildlife might disappear forever in a matter of generations.
The Problem With Plastic:
More than one million tourists come visit Roatan every single year, but this miniscule patch of land is home to only about 80,000 residents. The country cannot properly dispose of the waste from the constant influx of visitors.
While the luxury resorts attract honeymooners and vacationers to their spas and five-star restaurants, the municipality lacks the economic resources to implement the kind of infrastructure necessary to eliminate plastic waste from thousands upon thousands of travelers.
The landfills are constantly overflowing into the reef, and the animals that live there eat the plastic they mistake for food. In fact, according to the Roatan Marine Park, hundreds of thousands of sea mammals and perhaps over one million seabirds will die this year alone as a result of garbage that made its way into the ocean.
That’s not all though.
The toxins that find their way inside of the bodies of the fish in the reef will eventually find their way onto your plate and in your bloodstream. BPA toxic effects are well-documented in today’s medical literature. Make no mistake. It causes hormone imbalances, mineral deficiencies, erratic heartbeats, and even, in extreme cases, infertility. Worse still, it can linger in your body for decades, and you might very well even pass it on to your children.
Plastic takes 1,000 years to decompose, and you’ll often find skeletons of seabirds whose bodies have all but disintegrated save a stomach-sized clump of plastic still sitting on the beach.
Conservation Efforts in Roatan:
Plastic reduction is one of the Roatan Marine Park’s most urgent initiatives. You can find paper plates and cutlery for sale at the conservation office to replace any plastic or Styrofoam cups or dinnerware you might have brought along with you for a picnic lunch.
These conservation efforts are absolutely crucial to the survival of the island’s spectacular flora and fauna, but the team of park rangers desperately needs your cooperation. Each plastic zip-lock back and every wrapper for a six-pack of beer is potentially fatal.
If you want to enjoy the beautiful marine life that inhabits the waters around Roatan, then you need to help take responsibility for your own waste and ensure that your garbage won’t become somebody else’s next meal.
Remember, if you don’t want to eat it, they shouldn’t have to either.