Document Type

Capstone Project (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Social, Behavioral & Global Studies

First Advisor

Richard Harris

Second Advisor

Ajit Abraham


Plastic has completely consumed human life. We wake up to alarm clocks made of plastic, take showers with soaps and shampoos in plastic bottles, brush our teeth with plastic toothbrushes and this is only the beginning. Plastics expand into every aspect of our lives. Plastic has shaped daily lives in an unbelievable fashion since its creation and implementation in the early 1900s. Plastic was first created by a man named Leo Hendrik Baekeland, a Belgian-born American. Plastic has consumed lives and as a result entered into the ecosystems around us due to our wasteful society. This is the throwaway culture created by human societies that needs to be escaped. This idea of a throwaway culture is based on our continued waste of resources and items. Something created for the good of humans has been utilized in a throw-away society that has resulted in the complete destruction and pollution of our environment. This method of living has been detrimental to life forms across the globe. We have seen plastics infiltration into our oceans at a remarkable rate. Plastic waste in our oceans is said to be at 5.25 trillion pieces, much of which is hidden under the water in the ocean depths.[1] We have visible plastic patches across our great oceans, most famous is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch located between Hawai’i and California. There are an estimated 5 gyres across our planet now, with more certainly in the making. One of the main issues with our fight against ocean pollution is the fact that plastic waste is not always present and this develops the ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ mentality that can be so destructive to our way of thinking and certainly impacts our way of living. When a sailor goes out in our oceans the number one man-made object they see, is plastic.[2] This is a time in our planets life that is very unstable and uncertain; we are increasingly seeing issues in global warming and climate change, financial insecurities, violence and wars; yet we cannot ignore the fact that our selfish consumption and waste is also harming the environment, the one thing sustaining us. The garbage patches that sit in our oceans are increasingly becoming more mainstream and the attention it gets needs to be transformed into action across the board; this is a time in our life where we need every human and nation to collectively combat the plastic waste entering our oceans. Right now is a turning point for our society in more ways than one and we cannot neglect the ill-effects of plastic ocean pollution because it does more than harm our planet and the life it sustains but it is also effecting the human food chain.

[1] “Plastic Statistics.” Ocean Crusaders, 4 Jan 2015,

[2] Moore, C., & Phillips, C. (2012). Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captains Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans. New York, NY: Avery Publishing Group