We are all to be blamed for plastic in our oceans

This week in class we focused on a cluster of modern poems centred around the theme of water and specifically oceans. A key theme amongst the poem’s was the human impact on the beach landscape as a result of plastic waste being dumped into the sea. The charity Plastic Oceans estimates that “More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year” (2017). This is a staggering amount of plastic waste has resulted  in mass destruction to the homes of ocean wildlife, effecting the biodiversity of our oceans.  Sobering statistics such that “14% of all litter comes from beverage containers” and that ” Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century” (Plastic Oceans, 2017) , have  impacted my own already environmentally conscious behaviour. I have found myself thinking more critically of the plastic I use , especially in relation to water and bottled drinks. Within the poem Every New Construction (McCarthy Wolf, 2017) Such ideas are illuminated within the second stanza whereby the speaker recalls;

“I said yes without thinking to the plastic straw with ridges that bend”

The phrase “without thinking” is crucial here as it acknowledges the ease and familiarity of destructive behaviours in our everyday lives. It is normal and accepted to have a drink with a plastic straw,  in a plastic cup, no one would think twice about this – however Montgomery writing for One Green planet claims that “Each day, humans produce and utilize 500,000,000 straws “(2014). This is a staggering amount of plastic that is designed for one time use, thus ending up in our oceans after a product life of roughly 10 minuets. Thus our cultural norm of plastic use and our “without thinking” attitude is resulting in mass damage to marine life. Furthermore within the Every new construction the notion of blame is addressed  whereby the speaker claims that she will “blame” the person serving her for wasting plastic. This is reminiscent of the societal attitude of turning a blind eye to plastic waste. This thought provoking poem has caused me to address my own ignorance to such issues.  I too like the speaker in the poem have not been quick enough to decline wasteful plastic and will endeavour to so in the future and to continue to decrease my own plastic consumption. After doing further research I have found a wide range of alternatives and schemes to make using plastic free beverages containers and straws more affordable too- so there really is no excuse!




McCarthy, Woolf, Karen (2017)  “Every New Construction” Seasonal Disturbances, Manchester: Carcanet Press.

Montgomery, Maddison (2014) “You Are What You Eat With: Why Saying Yes to Plastic Straws is a Big NO for the Planet”, One Green Planet (online) Available at: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/plastic-straws-and-the-environment/%5BAccessed 22nd October 2017].

Plastic Oceans (2017) The Facts (Online) Available at:https://www.plasticoceans.org/the-facts/ [Accessed 22nd October 2017].


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