Ocean pollution: Education and sustainability

Published by , Date: March 16, 2020
Jacqueline Routhier and Gamma Sigma Sigma make bracelets out of plastic bags to promote and educate about upcycling.

Under the Waves, presented by Sigma Gamma Epsilon, was an event promoting ocean sustainability and awareness of pollution, which took place March 5 in the ballroom.

In coordination with Art Society, the Geology, Geography, and Environment Club (GGE) Sustainable Solutions, Macoskey Center, Gamma Sigma Sigma, Kappa Delta Pi and Environmental Health and Safety, the organizations each created a table to promote sustainable awareness.

Activities at Under the Waves ranged from ranged from upcycling plastic bags to make bracelets, simulating cleaning oil spills off animals, a pop-up shop and recycling plastic bottles as planters.

Haley Vissari, a junior early childhood education and special education dual major was at the event with Kappa Delta Pi, the education honors society. Vissari feels that it is important to educate the student body on the importance of ocean pollution and how difficult it is to clean it for marine life.

“It’s important, because this is our planet and we need to take care of it,” Vissari said. “A lot of people don’t really realize how big of a problem ocean pollution is.”

Vissari and Kappa Delta Pi, wanted to represent the situation of oil spills on marine life. They did this by rubbing vaseline on rubber animals and gave students the opportunity to attempt to clean them off with dish soap and a sponge, a task that proved to be difficult.

A common theme around the event was that a lot of people don’t understand how big of a problem ocean pollution is.

Jacqueline Routhier, junior early childhood education and special education major with a minor in asian studies, was at the event with the service sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma.

The organization found grocery bags and made upcycled bracelets out of them to promote reusing something for more than it’s original purpose.

“I don’t believe that a lot of people know about upcylcing but do believe that people participate in it without realizing it,” Routhier said. “Using grocery bags as a trash bag for your dorm is a form of upcycling, it’s using something for a purpose other than it’s original purpose.”

Routhier is the service vice president of Gamma Sigma Sigma and said that she will take any opportunity to set up service. Routhier believes that upcycling reduces the amount of plastic that ends up back in the ocean.

“Environmental sustainability, upcylcing and the plastic problem that we have is a huge passion area of mine personally,” Routhier said. “I wanted my organization to take some time to look at that issue and make even the tiniest bit of change.”

Similar to the environmental impact of plastic and pollution in the ocean, the environmental impacts of fast fashion were implied at the pop-up shop.

Kaitlin Karaffa, a senior environmental science major and meteorology minor said that the pop-up shop promoted the reduction of fast fashion. Students could donate clothes or get free second hand clothes.

Karaffa wanted to educate students about the impact textile dying can have on ocean pollution. Karaffa said that plenty of clothes are being made with recycled clothes and micro plastics, but when they enter the wash, the micro plastics go into the ocean.

“Until I joined this club, I knew nothing about the environmental impacts of new fashion,” Karaffa said. “I don’t think it’s well publicized. It’s one of those things, where you see the clothing and you want it, but you don’t really think about what it’s going to do down the line.”

Similar to everyday objects such as clothing having a long lasting effect on the environment, the GGE club educated people about the effect plastic water bottles have on the environment, and offered a way to reuse them as planters.

Kayla Ray, a sophomore geology and biology minor said that the GGE club collaborates with the environmental science and geology honorary. At Under the Waves, Ray and the GGE promoted reusing plastic water bottles as planters, offering students the opportunity to plant herb or flower seeds.

“I don’t believe a lot of people realize the impacts of pollution,” Ray said. “I think that it’s really important that there’s more education of it.”

Education, being one of the main purposes of the Under the Waves event was also spread through the Macoskey Center who offered pamphlets on the composting bin at the center as well as coupons.

Alongside the activities was art. Nicole McGuirk displayed her paintings of ocean waves in an art display.

Education about ocean pollution and sustainability was spread at Under the Waves, and all organizations in attendance agreed that ocean pollution is a problem.



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Hope is a senior converged journalism major entering her third year on The Rocket staff and her second year as campus life editor. Previously, she served as assistant campus life editor after contributing to the campus life section her freshman year. After graduation, she hopes to report for a paper either in local journalism or city news. Outside of The Rocket, Hope is also part of the JumpStart Mentor Program, the Student Organization of Latinos Hispanics and Allies (SOL) and Lambda Pi Eta.


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