This advertisement comes from the Surfrider Foundation, an organization committed to the “protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.” The image presents the viewer with what appears to be sushi made from plastic bags. The text informs the viewer that the “what goes in the ocean goes in you,” and that fish consume a large amount of plastic, indicating that when the viewer eats fish or fish products, such as sushi, they are also consuming the plastic that was dumped in the ocean and consumed by their meal. Following this, the image includes a url address to the Surfrider Foundation website if the viewer wants to get involved in the issue presented. The goal of the Surfrider Foundation in publishing this media is to inform the viewer of the existence of the issue of ocean pollution (if they were somehow unaware of it) and of its very real impact on their lives. As well, there is a subtle push from the image to get involved in solving the problem. The hope is that knowing that plastics in the ocean affects their lives, the viewers will be inspired to take action and join the Surfrider Foundation’s mission. The values demonstrated by this piece of media are those of interconnectedness and the importance of understanding the consequences of human activity. It encourages the viewers to know that the production of plastic waste is not being properly dealt with and that, eventually, the presence of plastic waste, as well as other kinds of waste, in the ocean will directly affect the health of those who consume fish. A lifestyle that this image would be in accordance with would be one in which the individual is aware of their individual impact on the environment and active in trying to mitigate this impact by decreasing the amount of waste produced by his/her consumption. Fortunately, a perspective omitted from this media is that of businesses/organizations who market products packaged in plastic. Their well-being is determined by continued consumption of their product, and they ensure this by packaging their goods in disposable materials: consume, dispose, and then consume again. As a college student in an environmental studies class, I support the efforts of the Surfrider Foundation and agree that the pollution of our oceans is an important issue that is inseparably connected to us as humans, despite the time lag in between pollution and the visible consequences to our health. I think most of my classmates and people with similar mindsets/perspectives would agree. However, there are countless other types of people with greatly varying backgrounds and experiences that may lead them to view this advertisement in a different light. Some people may see this image as very alarmist in nature, a product of snowflake, liberal thinking. Other people may not take such an extreme stance in opposition, but may decide that the issue is not a pressing one because they personally don’t consume fish or fish products regularly. Unfortunately, both of these kinds of people fail to practice systems-thinking and realize that no matter how much they deny or downplay the impact of pollution, it has long-lasting, concrete effects on our health and the health of the natural world. Unless more people are moved to act we will face consequences far worse than consuming plastics every time we decide to try the newest sushi restaurant in town.
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