Tag Archives: climate change

Breaking Down Netflix’s Seaspiracy

With Earth Day approaching us, I decided the least thing I could do was to finally watch “Seaspiracy”, a Netflix documentary I kept seeing people promoting all over social media, commenting on how they never wanted to eat seafood again. Directed by environmentalist Ali Tabrizi, he investigates the threat overfishing brings to our oceans.

So I sat down to watch the documentary, not really thinking anything of it. Next thing I knew I was screaming “Noooo!” at the screen and arguing with my seafood-loving diet about what I would do.

Now, if you do not have time to watch a 90-minute documentary, or like me, do not want to watch and hear dolphins being killed, at least read some key takeaways from the film.

Protecting Sea Creatures Means Protecting Our Environment

“Seaspiracy” throws in many eye-opening statistics, including the fact that five million fish are captured per minute. Not only are fish important in the ocean’s food chains, but they are also vital in keeping corals alive. Marine plants alone absorb 20 times as much carbon as plants on land. The film also claims that if overfishing continues on with the same trajectory, oceans would be empty by 2048. While this exact year has been since stated as using outdated science since the documentary’s release, Tabrizi has made it clear that it does not matter which exact year our oceans are empty because the whole point he was trying to make was that our oceans will eventually be emptied.

Tabrizi points out that when whales and dolphins surface, the phytoplankton they fertilize absorb carbon dioxide. Phytoplankton are then eaten by zooplankton, which enables the carbon dioxide to sink further into the ocean. Basically, without whales and dolphins, we would be seeing much higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Seeing as the ocean stores 93% of the world’s carbon dioxide, it would make sense that we tried to take more care of it- but we don’t.

Aside from the fact that the ocean is the world’s largest carbon sink, another problem Tabrizi discovers is that even though we make a big deal out of plastics in our oceans, most of the material in the Pacific Garbage Patch, about 46% of it, is fishing equipment.



“Sustainability” Labels

Beyond just catching fish, nets also indirectly catch other animals such as sharks and dolphins, a term known as bycatch. Sometimes, animals caught as bycatch die before they can be released again and are simply thrown back into the ocean. The documentary shares that 50 million sharks are killed per year as bycatch.

Tabrizi wonders how fishing can be sustainable, so he interviews people working with the Dolphin Safe tuna labels and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) labels that are there to ensure their product was caught without causing harm to other wildlife. In a series of interview clips, Tabrizi captures a shocking truth behind these sustainability labels: those companies are exploiting the problem of overfishing, using labels claiming to help to make money. Since the release of “Seaspiracy” though, companies have come out to say their comments were taken out of context.

Shrimp Slavery

The most shocking aspect of the documentary though is the fact that shrimp people everywhere are consuming is coming from the hands of slave labor. Tabrizi interviews workers in the shrimp industry who have managed to escape, whose identities are hidden in fear of getting captured by authorities who are covering the whole industry up.

In an interview in Bangkok, an old worker shares his experiences on the ships, sharing that the workers were abused, hit with iron bars, threatened with guns, and splashed with scorching hot water to be awakened. Even worse, workers who were killed had their bodies disposed of in the freezer. This abuse leads to workers who jump overboard, who would rather be dead than be forced to work in these conditions.

Alternate Options

Of course, after exposing all of these horrible aspects of the fishing industry, Tabrizi provides us with alternatives to seafood. He points out that the omega 3 fatty acids everyone associates with fish are actually from algae cells, so we really don’t need the fish at all and could consume plant-based solutions instead. He also states that there are many dioxins and other filthy chemicals entering our bodies through fish.

While some of the statistics shown in the documentary may have been outdated or exaggerated, the director’s point definitely got to me. If we continue to overfish at the same rate, climate change will continue to get worse and we will continue to deplete our oceans.

6 Ways To Reduce Waste that are Actually Useful

As Climate Change takes to the political stage in the upcoming 2020 elections, it becomes clear that the issue is something everyone should be paying attention to. Whether they’re sold on the science or not, everyone can — hopefully — agree that it’s better to do things that will help our planet than hurt it.

And while big corporations are certainly the main contributors, the everyday consumer in the United States accounts for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. So even individually, we would be significantly helping the planet by changing some parts of our daily habits to better it.

As a busy student on a budget, though, it can often be harder to stay green than it is for most people. Here are some tips that are useful, fashionable and frugal.

1. Refill Those Water Bottles

Photo by Tara Phipps

While carrying around the standard VSCO girl Hydro Flask seems to be the norm for college students, watching them carry 12-packs of plastic water bottles into their dorms is also common. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable — sometimes it’s just more convenient. Either way, for every student swinging around their metal water bottle there’s another crunching a plastic one as they drink their last sip and toss it in the trash. Instead of tossing away those plastic water bottles: refill them. It offers the same convenience of having 12 water bottles at a time to share and cuts out the physical trauma of continuously lugging a huge pack of them from the store to the dorm. The plastic bottles are easy to wash out and your fridge will always be stocked, making it convenient for when you wake up five minutes before class.

2. Save The Plastic Store Bags

Photo by Tara Phipps

If you’re an avid H.E.B-goer, then you probably already have your reusable bags on hand and ready to go, and you should be using them at every store you go to. But, if you don’t have them and inevitably get those plastic Walmart or Target bags, you can save them instead of throwing them away. From using them as bathroom trash can liners to a cutting board — or the occasional barf bag at a frat party you’ll forget by the morning — they have a lot more uses in them than carrying snacks around. The more uses you can come up with for them, the less they will get thrown away, and the happier the planet will be.

3. Enjoy Some Meatless Meals

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Photo by Ben Leal

One of the best ways to help reduce waste in the world is to go vegan, which means you stop eating animal by-products entirely — but we live in Texas and there’s a steakhouse on every corner (don’t look, Bevo). So the next best thing is to limit your meat and animal by-product intake. Some great ways to do this are to have three or four designated vegan or vegetarian days throughout the week and to start looking into milk alternatives, like soy or coconut milk. People often report better health when they reduce the amount of animal products they’re consuming. So your skin will be looking clear and so will the planet’s.

4. Turn Old Clothes Into Something New

Photo by Tara Phipps

Paper towels and napkins are an infamous single-use product, and while they’re more degradable, it’s always better to reuse old things than keep going out and buying something new – especially when it’s wrapped in plastic. Taking old clothes you’re not wearing anymore and cutting them into rags not only cleans out your wardrobe but also gives you something nice and absorbent next time there’s a spill at your house party. Then wash, rinse, and repeat. 

5. Get on The Metal Staw Trend

Photo by Tara Phipps

Come on, you know you want to save the turtles. Restaurants and coffee shops notoriously fling plastic straws around like nobody’s business, and plenty of people often buy plastic straws for their homes. Instead of opening up a plastic bag to use a plastic straw, buy some metal ones. They usually come in a four-pack with their own cleaner and in an array of fun designs and colors. So not only are you looking a little more stylish while you’re sipping on your latte but also the e-boy you’ve been eying is bound to take notice.

6. Thrift it Up

Photo Courtesy of “thrift store sidewalk” by vistavision is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

If you’re in Austin then you have to go thrift shopping. There are thrift shops all over the place, and a gold mine of clothes just waiting to be tried on. This helps reduce waste because the more thrifting you do, the less corporations need to manufacture new clothes through industrial processes. It’s a fun way to save some bank and save the planet. And if you have any leftover fits from the rag metamorphosis you could take them and sell them to Buffalo Exchange, or trade them for a different outfit entirely to be a money-saving icon.

So, as the new year starts to settle in, resolve to adopt these tips to help our planet (and this time, actually go through with it). If we all worked to follow these tips then we could have a massive impact. Or we could move to Mars — that’s cool, too.