Litter becomes growing problem for Florida beaches

Hundreds of miles of garbage wash up on Florida’s beaches, from cans, to fishing line, to plastic bags. As the trash accumulates on our beaches, it becomes a problem to humans and Florida’s sea life neighbors.

Trash falls from our hands, not from the sky. The trash that ends up on the beaches and in the oceans needs to be prevented because it is detrimental to wildlife, harmful to humans, and slow to decompose.

According to www.sciencedaily.com, trash in the oceans and the beaches kills more than 1,000,000,000 seabirds and 100,000 turtles and marine mammals each year through entanglement and ingestion. When beachgoers and boaters leave their garbage in the ocean and on the beach, most do not realize that the trash can be hazardous to sea life. Through entanglement, the trash can wrap around the creature’s flippers causing circulation loss and amputations, and smother or trap animals, causing them to drown. Entanglement can also create wounds and cuts that can lead to bacterial infections along with slow animals’ ability to swim, making them vulnerable to predators.

In addition, the entanglement of trash can cause starvation as animals would no longer be able to feed their young. These animals suffer from ingestion of trash as well. When an animal ingests trash, its digestive track becomes blocked, leading the animal into a state of starvation. This is because once the garbage is ingested, is provides a false sense of being full, so the animal goes without food, eventually starving itself to death. If the animal ingests sharp objects like metal or glass, the fragments can perforate the stomach, causing internal bleeding. If the trash becomes lodged in the animals’ windpipe it can cut off airflow and can cause the animal to suffocate.

In addition to hurting wildlife, the trash that builds up on the beaches can hurt beach visitors as well. Some trash can have sharp or jagged edges. People who walk barefoot on the beach could cut themselves on trash hidden in the sand, as mentioned on www.scholastic.com. As hundreds of people visit the beach daily, hazards of sea glass, broken bottles, and even plastic are likely to occur. Walking barefoot on the beach can result in cuts and punctures in the foot, turning a lovely beach day into an emergency hospital visit.

But, broken and jagged garbage is not the only way to hurt oneself. Garbage also carries germs. The bacteria carried in the garbage disposed, such as food and old clothing, can cause bacterial infections and many common to fatal illnesses.  People can become sick from coming in close contact with diseased garbage.

Also, garbage can take years and years to decompose. As said in www.sciencedaily.com, a tin can that entered the ocean in 1986 is still decomposing in 2036. A plastic bottle that entered the ocean in 1986 is still decomposing in 2436. And a glass bottle that entered the ocean in 1986 will continue to decompose in year 1,001,986. Trash does not magically disappear when it enters the ocean and beach, it can take tens of hundreds of thousands of years to decompose, and in the process can come to harm multiple sea creatures. Glass and plastic take the longest to decompose, and unfortunately are more commonly disposed of inappropriately. According to www.scholastic.com, plastic can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade, or break down into smaller pieces once it is thrown away. So, all of the trash disposed of on the beach or in the oceans sticks around for a very long time.

All people and animals are affected negatively by the trash build up on our beaches and the oceans, not only through direct injuries, but also through injury to the world. The oceans are a key part of Earth. With 70 percent of Earth being covered by water, the oceans support sea life, along with provide people food. If humans pollute the oceans they will take away a valuable asset to the future, and suffer the serious repercussions that will be put upon humankind be it intentionally or unintentionally.

Though some may say that only a few pieces of trash dropped do not make much a difference, they actually do. Even one piece of trash dropped every day can add up to be 1,000 pieces of trash over time, meaning that there are chances of 1,000 animals and humans injured and a guaranteed 30 or more years to decompose.

The world we live in is in this generations hands, and helping it is too. Instead of carelessly disposing of trash, better government enforcement of littering laws needs to be introduced. And, along with that, it is the little things people can do to make a difference. Attend local beach cleanups and raise awareness of this problem. After all, prevention is the real solution.