Researchers studying reefs off of Indonesia, Myanmar and other parts of Southeast Asia have discovered that after plastic comes into contact with a reef, the coral is 20 times more likely to be afflicted by disease according to an article by Scientific American.
As the article comments, this number is much larger than scientists have anticipated and stresses the importance of waste management, showing how “plastic must be taken into account when planning how to manage and protect reefs, and that many countries need to overhaul their waste management systems to keep plastic from getting into the ocean.”
The new study, shown in the Jan. 26 issue of Scientific American, shows that where plastic is found on reefs around Southeast Asia, the likelihood of the coral having a fatal disease rose from 4 to 89 percent. Plastic has the ability to damage the surfaces of delicate coral as well as block them from receiving sunlight and oxygen. One common disease, for example, known as black band disease, infects a coral and eats away at its tissue, causing a dark strip to appear. This problem not only affects our ocean biodiversity but also harms many economies in regions near reefs as well.
LMU does an excellent job of advertising environmental responsibility and supporting green movements. Many service organizations on campus actively reach out to improve the quality of our surrounding community and the University has many suggestions and policies put in place to reduce waste on campus.
The most important thing students can do is reduce the amount of plastic used on a daily basis. According to an article by Fast Company, approximately one million plastic bottles are sold around the world each minute. The amount of unnecessary plastic waste we circulate around the world could be reduced exponentially if people stopped buying three plastic water bottles a day and owned their own water bottles. Some companies such as Evian, have already realized the disturbingly damaging effects of plastic waste and have pledging to make all Evian bottles with 100 percent recycled plastic by 2025 according to the article by Fast Company. It will also work with a nonprofit organization to help collect ocean plastic.
However, in the end, it’s up to the general public to stay wary of the dangers of plastic and integrate more environmentally friendly habits into our daily lives. We need to spread awareness about this issue and stop for a moment to think before irresponsibly using plastic bags and water bottles.