Earth Day Reflection
Earth Day comes and goes once a year to remind us of the importance of caring for our planet. As an organization that incorporates environmental education into our programming, we encourage our community to treat every day like it’s Earth Day.
The ocean is an integral part of our programs here at VSP. It is our playground and refuge.
Many of our students come from rough areas in Valparaíso which forces them to mature quickly. Being in the ocean gives them an opportunity to play and be a kid. While many of them have expansive views of the ocean from their homes, there are few beaches nearby. VSP connects our students to the ocean through surfing, a sport that would otherwise be inaccessible. As we build a recreational relationship with the ocean, we begin to gain a deeper appreciation, as well.
At VSP, we help students carry this appreciation into action. The environmental portion of our program places emphasis on keeping our oceans healthy by way of organizing beach cleans, offering recycling resources, and overall educating about how our actions influence the health of the ocean. On April 22 we celebrated Earth Day and wanted to share some information about ocean health to inspire our community to care for the environment every day.
According to Conservation.org, nearly 18 billion pounds of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year. Plastic contributes to the many problems that the oceans are currently struggling with: animal entanglement or ingestion, increased acidification, sun cover which harms marine vegetation; the list goes on. But the main issue is that plastic doesn’t really decompose, meaning that these problems will continue for a very long time.
If plastic has such a devastating impact on marine wildlife, the obvious solution to this problem is to reduce plastic use. Opting for cans or reusable bottles instead of disposables are great ways to lower single-use plastic consumption. Mindful disposal (i.e., separating trash, recycling, and compost) is also a good way to contribute to the health of our oceans. However, in order to make real lasting change this reduction must occur on a larger level. For example, as of 2018, Chile has banned plastic bags for commercial use. A country-wide ban on a plastic product notorious for its damage to ocean health not only immediately reduces plastic pollution; it also sets a precedent for future generations growing up in Chile. This is one step in the right direction of mitigating our impact on the oceans.
VSP encourages our community to strive for lasting change. Do what you can to reduce your individual impact on the environment every day. Reduce, reuse, and recycle; get involved in your community and organizations that support environmental sustainability; voice your concerns to representatives; and be mindful of how each action will affect the planet. But above all, encourage the people around you to do the same.
Happy Earth Day Every Day!