Microplastics in the Ocean

The ocean contains multiple hot spots of microplastics – and they’re destroying the marine ecosystem. Microplastics are small pieces of plastic, smaller than 1 millimeter that are in everyday products such as cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes. There are two types of microplastics; one is directly man-made and the other is a result of plastic breaking down.  It is common knowledge that there is no easy way to dispose of plastic, especially since it is made to be durable, and the garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean is proof of that. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, mostly made up of microplastic and debris, stretches from the west coasts of North America to the shores of Japan. Satellite imagery cannot detect the floating garbage, but it is affecting marine life and it is affecting us too (National Geographic).

There are approximately one million species of animals and plants that live in the ocean, and nine million more undiscovered (National Geographic). Yet one thing we already know is that their wellbeing is being affected by microplastics. At the World’s Fair Marina located in Flushing, debris was floating right nearby a family of geese, as seen in the picture above. Fish and other animals that unknowingly consume the microplastic are put at risk, as dangerous chemicals attach themselves to plastics, therefore negatively affecting their ecosystem.

Plastic washes ashore where birds and other animals use it as a nesting area and a source of food. Many baby animals die due to the sharp edges of the plastic puncturing their body while older animals die due to being unable to digest plastic (BBC). Long term effects may include the endangerment or even extinction of several species including fish, birds, and turtles.The issue persists, with the fact that a quarter of all fish contain microplastics (The Independent). Fishing is a large, booming industry with high demand as the percentage of Americans who eat seafood increases every year. Affected fish that are ingested by humans in large quantities put people at risk of infertility, poisoning, and disruptions to the endocrine system, which is responsible for the cells, organs and functions of the body (MedlinePlus.gov).

Just as we destroy the environment, we can also come up with a solution. There have been attempts to alleviate pollution such as the familiar phrase: reduce, reuse, recycle. Additionally, New York City recently tried to introduce a law that would allow stores to charge at least five cents per plastic bag used although that was recently blocked (New York Times). However, there is still more that we can do to help including: limit the use of plastic and shop using reusable bags even if there is no extra charge for plastic. This will decrease plastic consumption. Also, avoid items that have excessive packaging. Supporting organizations dedicated to fighting ocean pollution will be beneficial, and last but not least: not exploiting marine life. The ocean is resilient, but we have to do our part to help it.

Written by Alicia Garcia


If You See Something, Say Something


Photo Courtesy: Bryan Vilchis

New York recently underwent a wave of suspicion and vigilance which was attributed to the rise of the “If you see something say something.” campaign which first emerged after the events of September 11, 2001. This rise in safeguard has recently sprung up once again following the series of bombings that took place on September 17th in Chelsea. Two explosions caused panic to erupt in the district and a third explosion was meant to follow until local law enforcement authorities found and deactivated the device. These events have not been the only contribution to the rise of the “If you see something say something” campaign. Autumn’s recent “clown epidemic” has been dully noted. Between the months of September and October the sudden spike in a trend of dressing up as a clown and scaring individuals had raised further suspicions and turmoil.

In light of these events the last couple of months New Yorkers have been open in expressing their feelings about the sudden rise of suspicious activity. Tara Davis from Queens stated “ I don’t think people should just go on about their daily lives, we had an attack of terrorism committed in our city and I think it should be a wake up call for people to start noticing suspicious actions.” Fredrick Rockweld from Brooklyn shared his views on the reasons people are now “seeing something” and “saying something” and claimed it was because of Harry Bains. Bains was a bartender working late at night at the bar he runs when he noticed suspect Ahmed Khan sleeping in the doorway of his establishment. Khan had been on all the major News outlets that day for being the prime suspect in the Chelsea explosions and was still being sought after. Bains immediately phoned the police and is now deemed a local hero.

Rockweld stated: “ I do believe Mr. Bains has contributed to the rise in suspicion that New York now has been having lately. He literally saw something and said something about it and I think because of that people are now starting to realize that everyday citizens of New York can help each other this way. People are being more observant of their everyday lives and we’re now always looking out for each other.” (washingtonpost.com)

However the flood of New York’s suspicion can’t just be credited to the events that took place in Chelsea. It can be attributed to a nationwide swarm of unnerving “clown sightings”. Much like leaving packages unnervingly by the sidewalk, clown sightings have contributed to discomfort in the local community of New York City. TIME magazine recently published a piece about a so called “creepy clown” subway incident. A man in oversized clown attired boarded a train and would not let people exit the train by blocking exits. A 16 year old boy was pushed by the clown and was immediately chased by the clown who wielded a kitchen knife. The investigation concluded with the NYPD releasing video footage of the alleged clown moments before the incident took place (abc7ny.ca). Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call the NYPD Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800- 577-TIPS (8477). The “clown epidemic” (globalnews.ca) that swept the nation has not left New York out as this is only one of many clown sightings in the great state. Most sightings are reported immediately to officials and local law enforcement encourage people to speak up about any and all sightings. The “If you see something, say something” campaign has applied to this onslaught of clown sightings further encouraging the everyday New Yorkers to speak up. Afsana Ali from the Academy Gazette states “I’ve had it with these imbeciles dressing up like clowns. High school boys act enough like clowns already we don’t need anymore people terrorizing our youth and everyday environment.”

The discomfort is not only apparent in teenagers to speak up against this wave of red noses and face paint. Chantelle Lawrence from the Bronx stated: “If I see anything even remotely resembling a clown I’m reporting it to the police. The city of New York has to be one of the most busiest places in the world, we don’t need people with no jobs and face paint obstructing train traffic for the people trying to get to their job.” Chantelle expressed her feelings regarding the validity of the nation calling this a “clown epidemic”. She responded with “Heavens no, we have real epidemics in the world the mainstream media doesn’t choose to cover, yet they feel the need to give these immature people attention just because they’re walking around attempting to terrorize our city”.

The “If you see something, say something campaign” has given the people of New York something to fall back on against the rise of suspicious activity. New Yorkers have worked together behind this slogan against the turmoil of potentially dangerous occurrences. Discomfort will always be in the air because no one is always safe. However, the people of New York have the ability to make it better. By simply applying the “If you see something, say something” campaign to their everyday lives, the community can make the city more secure. People would feel less anxious on trains, street corners and in their neighborhoods. This shouldn’t be an issue for a resilient city like New York and if citizens continue to watch each other’s back against the of rise suspicious activity, they can make New York a safer environment for the people they hold dear and themselves.

Written by Bryan Vilchis