How might we reduce the negative impact which harmful plastics have on ocean life?

Goal 14: Life Below Water | By: Dawson


I chose to conduct my research around UN Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water. Specifically, I decided to focus on plastic pollution in the oceans. Beginning the journey of learning more about plastic pollution and how it is harming ocean life was truly exciting and overwhelming! There are so many diverse avenues to pursue within the realm of plastic pollution, and I truly appreciated the unique conversations and perspectives this project allowed me to encounter. One of the critical realities I learned is that the conversation around reducing plastic pollution is very complex, and yet the root barriers (namely, consumer demand and a lack of legislation on single-use plastics) stay consistent throughout the narrative. One of the challenges for Albertans is that we don’t live near an ocean, and therefore we are at risk of a certain apathy towards plastic pollution, along with its negative impacts on ocean life. In other words, it is an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. This system map gives an overview of causal relationships within the system and helps to identify barriers surrounding the ability to reduce plastic pollution in oceans. It also shows areas of impact which either affect or are affected by the barriers.

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I chose to look into harmful plastics and their effects on life below water because it’s something we impact everyday in Calgary, even though we don’t live near the ocean. Plastics in general is a huge issue right now and there’s currently many efforts (and opposition) to legislating plastic bans in Canada. I never realized how messy this issue is but I also never considered how many awesome initiatives are out there to support people who want to make a change!