For the past 11 years I have been an active member in The Girl Scouts of America. My passion is to solve all the issues our planet faces, save our oceans, and make a difference in the world.Through my participation with the Girl Scout organization, I have been able to pursue my passions and build leadership skills. For my Gold Award project, my main focus will be to educate the public on the harm plastic plays in the ocean and other overall issues our oceans face. In order to accomplish this I plan to have frequent beach clean ups and educational sessions at local rotary clubs and elementary schools. Creek life, an organization that fundraises to help save the environment, has volunteered to help me with my project. Creek life has been kind enough to donate t-shirts and many resources to enable our club to get more volunteers at clean ups and to crowdfund to raise money for them.
The main focus of my project is education. I am working to ensure that the people are aware of how they can make a change and what is actually going on in the world. Throughout my lesson plans and educational sessions; I will be teaching people about the harm of plastic in the ocean. A lot of people could help but are unaware of the contribution they could make and the issues our oceans face. In 6th grade I did a project that changed my life. We learned all about how plastic runs into the ocean and how we personally can make a difference. It changed my entire life and is the inspiration behind my gold award project. I hope to have the opportunity to give others the same kind of experience I received in middle school.
To make the biggest impact possible I have created a club at my school. In this club our main focus will be on the science side of what goes on in the ocean. For example we will perform and analyze the pH levels of different beaches and rivers; in order to analyze the acidity of the water and how it can affect life. Through a long chemical process we can figure out how much oxygen is dissolved in the ocean. We will run beach clean ups, starting in the summer, posting them on the Creek life website to encourage involvement. Once at the beach we will educate the public on the issues our oceans face. We will set up a table, hand out flyers, and try and get the people involved. Our club will use the data from the experiments to tell the public about problems our oceans and rivers face in their communities. The club will also assist with the educational sessions at the rotary clubs and elementary schools, working to educate everyone on the issues and solve them. In addition to this, our club is working to get more recycling bins and to start a recycling program at our school. We do not have recycling bins in every classroom, so we are trying to get funding to purchase recycling bins for our school.
Without our oceans, human life would not be able to go on. The oceans provide resources we can not live without, such as food. Algae provides 80% of the oxygen we breathe. Our oceans absorb excess heat in the atmosphere, acting as a global climate control monitor.
Plastic enters our oceans in a number of ways. The current rainwater systems take trash blown from the street or washed in by water, to the ocean. No matter where you live, the runoff in our storm drains washes into the ocean. Plastic in the ocean has number out effects on ocean life. Hundreds of thousands of birds every year die due to eating too much plastic. Animals are unable to digest the plastic, and they eventually die of starvation. Sea life is often strangled because of fishing line or the rings from soda bottle Plastic also can get caught in the gyres of the ocean. A gyre is where the tides of warmer and cooler waters meet, causing an endless spiral of currents. Plastic floating in the ocean often gets stuck in these currents.
A few years ago, researchers set out on a journey to clean up the plastic collecting in the gyres of the oceans. The researchers set out to collect plastic with nets from the main gyres. Gyres are basically where the ocean tides collect with the water and cooler waters from different oceans, forming a spiral. The researchers calculated they would collect millions of tons of plastic. Instead, they only found 40,000 tons. 99% of the plastic that they had expected was missing. Researchers believe there are only a couple of places this plastic could be. The first, most obvious answer, is that the plastic is being eaten by animals. Unfortunately this could have drastic effects on our global food web. Fish eat other fish, we eat fish, bears eat fish, and so on. After eaten by the animals, there’s two things possible that could end up happening. One idea is that the animals eating, then throwing up the plastic. If the animals don't throw it up, it is stuck in their stomachs. This could kill them, or it would be desecrated by the fish back into the ocean.
Organisms could possibly be sticking to the plastic and sinking to the bottom of the ocean. This, and the plastic being sunk via fish feces, is probably the best possible scenario. This would mean the plastic is simply at the bottom of the ocean instead of the top. This does not solve the problem, or make it any easier to clean, however it prevents the plastic from blocking light. Plankton and other sea creatures need light to grow and if the plastic is on the bottom of the ocean, it is no longer blocking their sunlight.
Plastic can have serious long term effects on our oceans. Here, you can see my progress in my project and my work to begin a recycling program at my school.
For more information about what I have done in my Gold Award project, please visit saveouroceans.tumblr.com/
Students and Schools
Additional Instructions/Directions To The ProjectTo get recycling bins in each of our 32 classrooms in our school, we are working to raise $256. This would account for the $8 that each classroom would cost.
For our beach cleanups, we have been able to pay with our club funds. Unfortunately, we are not making any money off recycling from our beach clean ups (about $2.50 each time), so we would like to try raise money for them as well.