May 23, 2018

Global Plastic Crisis and Plastic Pollution

 

The last two decades have seen an astronomical rise in the use and improper disposal of plastic products; now one of the most harmful pollutants that humanity has ever produced. According to Greenpeace, around 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastic-based waste products end up in the oceans around the world every year, including everything from plastic bottles and bags to tiny plastic beads found in inexpensivejewellery.

Such pollutants in the ocean endanger both plant and animal life underwater and affects everything from tiny zooplankton to large whales who mistake the toxic plastic materials for food. Marine animals that consume the plastic pollutants eventually find that the pieces clog their stomachs, causing illness or death. 

There are also landfills full of such toxic waste. This can affect birds, who often get tangled in plastic objects. These pollutants are found in the stomachs of 90% of such birds that die every year from the same reason. The effects of plastic pollution can be seen all over the world and is starting to affect humans as well as we often consume the same aquatic life that fall ill from the pollutants in the waters. In fact, practically all beaches in the world contain plastic waste and the volume of these pollutants are growing rapidly.

 

 

A study conducted by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara, California, predicted that by 2025, the amount of plastic waste in our oceans and seas will be around 160 million metric tonnes, and that is even without considering the amount of plastic waste in the landfills around the world. The rise in plastic pollution is already affecting the entire world’s ecology. In the extreme scenario, this can upset the delicate balance of all life, causing planet Earth to become, ultimately, uninhabitable. 

There are efforts from countries like the UK and USA to reduce the use and improper disposal of plastic products with the introduction of laws that ban the distribution and use of objects made from plastic, among other regulations. Many cities and states around the world are penalizing the use of plastic bags in retail, and some major stores have banned the plastic bag altogether.

We’ve listed some practices that you can adopt and promote at home and in your community. Local governments also use similar basic ideas as guidelines to introduce anti-pollution laws.

 

-  Refuse to use disposable plastic items

Plastic cutlery, grocery bags, straws, coffee cup lids and plastic wraps make up about 90% of the world’s plastic waste and most of these come with our food or drinks every time we get takeaway or order out at home or at work. The best alternative to this would be to carry reusable cutlery to work and asking the restaurant or coffee shop to not pack disposable plastic items with your meal or coffee. Another good way to avoid using disposable plastics is to cook at home more often – it’s healthier, and cuts out the plastic boxes and packaging that takeout almost always comes in.

 

 

-  Boycott plastic water bottles

Refusing to buy water from stores, especially when it comes in plastic bottles, is imperative when it comes to regulating the amount of waste we generate. It’s always a good idea to carry a reusable bottle filled with water from home. 

 

 

-  Buy products in bulk

Whenever we buy small quantities of a product, the packaging usually contains about the same amount of plastic compared to the bulk packaging of the same item. If the item isn’t perishable and can be stored for a while, like shampoo, soaps and similar items, it is often cheaper to buy in bulk and will also reduce the amount of plastic waste we generate. Also consider pressuring manufacturers to use more eco-friendly and smarter packaging in creating the items that you’re purchasing. This would help control one of the root causes of plastic pollution.

 

-  Recycle

Considering all this, however, the best and most effective way to reduce plastic-related pollution is always to promote recycling. Currently, less than 14% of the world’s plastic packaging is recycled, which is one of the main factors in the rapid growth of plastic waste volumes.

Let us take it upon ourselves to learn, and then to teach our neighbors, friends and family about the proper methods of recycling. Recycling varies based on the marking on the packaging, the popular classes of packaging being #1 (PET), #2 (HDPE) or #5 (PP), which all require separate bins since they have different recycling methods.

 

 

Reduce, reuse, recycle. A mantra that has been repeated ad nauseam… and which bears repeating again and again, until every citizen of the world practices this golden rule! With the rapid advancement of climate change, and the damage inflicted on our planet and its inhabitants by plastic waste, we can no longer wait for later. Let’s make a stand today. Let’s take one small step to save the world from ourselves… and from the scourge of plastic pollution.

 

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