San Francisco, California
2017, High School, Poetry
On the beach on any given summer Saturday
Mama packs Capri Sun and peanut butter sandwiches
Slathers her kids bellies with tacky white sunscreen
Too cold and they complain
Safe and protected
Oxybenzone blocks the rays the kids gratefully soak in
Leech into the water as they splash in the waves
4 or 5 thousand tons a year gently washing towards coral reefs
The coral deforms and dies, no longer vibrant
The kids go snorkeling
Complain it’s not as pretty as the pictures
They go home
Mama washes her face with her new Ocean Breeze scrub
Grainy plastic beads, for a better clean
Reminds her of the beach she loves
The water flows through the drain, plastic beads with it
Pick up toxins and pollutants like new friends
Too small and clever for the filters to catch
Mama loves the ocean
She reads a new bill has been proposed, banning microbeads
It’s a new word, she almost confuses it for the fuse beads she just bought
She reads of pollutants in the water
Fish starving with bellies full of plastic
Mama loves her Ocean Breeze scrub after a long day
Mama doesn’t want her kids to burn in the sun
Mama loves the ocean.
She stops buying Ocean Breeze
Reads titanium sunscreen doesn’t hurt the coral
But mama is one person
8 million tons of plastic in her ocean every year
Mama grew up snorkeling to see the coral
Her kids see it bleached and weak
But mama’s kids care
Grow up careful with their products
Mindful of their mama’s ocean
Determined their kids will see plastic in recycling bins
And fish and coral in the sea
Corley, Cheryl. “Why Those Tiny Microbeads in Soap May Pose Problem for Great Lakes.” NPR, 24 May 2014, www.npr.org/2014/05/21/313157701/why-thosetiny-microbeads-in-soap-may-pose-problem-for-great-lakes. Accessed 26 May
Green Peace. “Personal Care Products May Still Be Polluting Oceans despite Promises by Companies Says Greenpeace.” Green Peace, 20 July 2016, www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/2016/Personal-care-productsmay-still-be-polluting-oceans-despite-promises-by-companies-says-Greenpeace/. Accessed 26 May 2017.
Malik Chua, Jasmin. “Which Personal-Care Brands Are Still Polluting the Oceans with Microbeads?” Ecouterre, edited by Jill Fehrenbacher, 20 July 2016, www.ecouterre.com/which-personal-care-brands-are-still-polluting-the-oceanswith-microbeads/. Accessed 26 May 2017.
“Marine-toxic Ingredients in Personal Care Products.” MarineSafe, edited by Craig Downs et al., www.marinesafe.org/the-problem/marine-toxic-ingredients-inpersonal-care-products/. Accessed 26 May 2017.
Stallard, Brian. “Ocean Pollution: 8 Trillion Microbeads a Day from US.” Nature World News, 25 Sept. 2015, www.natureworldnews.com/articles/16829/20150925/ocean-pollution-8-trillionmicrobeads-day-alone.htm. Accessed 26 May 2017.
I decided to write about pollutants and plastics in personal care products as I really enjoy makeup and skincare and have recently been making more of an effort to purchase environmentally friendly products. It breaks my heart to think of my own products, like face washes and sunscreen, being detrimental to the environment and especially the ocean. I have loved the ocean since I was little and my current Marine Ecology class has only deepened my appreciation, so I want to do whatever I can to encourage others to rethink their product purchases to protect the ocean and the creatures that inhabit it.