VSCO trend highlights pollution issues

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In mid to late 2019, the Visual Supply Company, or VSCO, trend went wild. With it brought a serious issue into light: Save the turtles. The VSCO trend rejected single use plastics, saying they polluted the ocean and lead to the death of turtles, as turtles would mistake it for food that would cause them to choke and die.

“Many turtles, that have been killed by consuming debris, had plastic bags or fishing line in their stomachs, some as small as half of a fingernail,” according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy website. “Sea turtles are especially susceptible to the effects of consuming marine debris due to their bodies’ own structure.” 

A large push was made to convince individuals to ditch single-use plastics or recycle them. Several commercials were made listing the statistics and the consequences of single-use plastics in the ocean. “By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean,” according to the Global Plastic Action Partnership website.

 Now we are not only looking at a push to end plastics, but to switch from standard internal combustion engines to electric cars to bring down carbon emissions. This push to limit pollution is fantastic. It benefits future generations and will prolong the lifespan of our planet. 

University of Georgia environmental engineering professor, Jenna Jambeck, has calculated there is 9 million tons of plastic waste floating around the ocean. When it comes to greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions individuals only account for 8.1 metric tons out of 6,508 million metric tons, according to a study done by the Center of Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan. 

A possible solution to the plastic problem that everyone can do is simply recycling, but some plastics can’t be recycled. For example, No. 3 plastics and vinyl, and No. 7 plastics, which are various kinds of plastics like acrylic, fiberglass, and nylon can’t be recycled. “PVC recycle number means that the item is strong and elastic due to softening chemicals. Some other highly toxic chemicals like DEHA can be produced during the whole plastic No. 3 life cycle,” according to an article written by YesStraws, a biodegradable straw manufacturer, “it is hard to recycle 7 plastics and most factories do not accept it. There are no standard protocols for using and reusing this plastic.” 

Large corporations have created a big misconception on who is responsible for the pollution of our planet because of the constant marketing for individuals to stop using single-use plastics and switch over to electric cars, when it’s actually corporations polluting our water and air.

“The fossil fuel industry took a page from the tobacco industry’s playbook in its efforts to defeat action on climate change,” according to Richard Heede with the Climate Accountability Institute. “Similarity between the tobacco industry’s disinformation campaign and the fossil fuel industry’s current efforts to sow confusion about climate change.”

The tactic of manipulation caused people to believe that massive fossil fuel emissions done by these corporations is not nearly that bad, which, of course, results in unchecked pollution by these corporations.

“Fossil fuel companies have stymied efforts to make this necessary energy transition by sowing public doubt about climate science and pushing a misleading narrative of consumer responsibility for the climate crisis,” according to the Harvard Political Review. 

The responsibility of fixing the current state of our planet doesn’t fall on us as individuals but on corporations. They’re able to twist the blame of pollution by convincing that the issue is non-existent or not as major as it actually is no fault of our own and these corporations need to make changes to themselves before any actual push to helping our planet can be made However, this article was not made to deter people from doing their part in helping our planet. There are things we can still do and every bit helps take us in the right direction, such as buying reusable straws, taking aluminum cans to the Tyler Iron and Metal Co. As they offer 65 cents per pound scrap metal you bring in. There are even ways to help on campus by pushing Keep TJC Beautiful to add recycling bins around campus and even participating in Arbor Day at TJC to help replant trees around campus.