Plastic is everywhere
… But plastic waste has also become a real environmental disaster. The surface of the ocean has long become a global source of microplastic particles, which enter both the water and the atmosphere with the help of wind. Microplastic pollution has become so widespread that it is found not only in the organisms of ocean inhabitants, but also in Arctic glaciers, and even in human organs.
Previously, it was known that once in the body, microplastics pass through the gastrointestinal tract, but new studies are shocking – the particles accumulate in organs: the kidneys, liver, lungs, as well as in the placenta of pregnant women and baby milk. So far, there are no reliable studies on how this affects health, but one thing is clear – there is nothing useful in this. Doctors are of the opinion that plastic particles increase cancer risks, inflammation and the likelihood of infertility. It turns out that there is no place left on Earth where a particle of plastic would not meet. Alas, it cannot be separated from water, air, soil, since the smallest particles simply cannot be filtered.
And this is only one side of the problem. The second is huge landfills littered with packaging, plastic furniture, disposable tableware and bottles, plastic bags, toys and other household waste. These are incinerators that release toxic compounds, furans and dioxins into the air, which are formed when plastic is burned. It is worth noting that the pandemic has also contributed to plastic pollution. Billions of disposable masks and gloves have contributed to the number one environmental problem. Now in the Arctic, you can find not only microplastic particles, but also a used disposable mask.
Ways to deal with plastic
Realizing the problem, some countries are completely abandoning single-use plastic tableware and packaging. Individual companies are also joining the initiative, offering craft paper or biodegradable bags.
Kenya has a total ban on plastic bags. For their use, you can get a fine or jail time. Other African countries choking on plastic waste want to follow Kenya’s example.
The European Union is considering a ban on single-use plastic utensils and a fine for unsuitable for recycling garbage. EU countries, as well as the UK, are proposing a ban on disposable tableware, drink straws, cotton swabs and balloon mounts. Instead of selling water bottles (by the way, bottled water is also a source of microplastics), European countries are planning to place drinking fountains on city streets.
India plans to introduce radical measures to combat plastic by 2022, where the situation with plastic pollution is simply catastrophic: the beaches of the Indian Ocean are littered with garbage. Moreover, in the largest country in the world there is no waste sorting and recycling system.
But in Taiwan, the authorities completely changed the consumer culture of the inhabitants, simplifying the waste recycling system for them. There is a fine for non-compliance with the rules. In this country, 55% of plastic waste is recycled, which is a record high – for comparison, in other countries this figure does not exceed 7%.
Hotels, restaurants, and retail chains are also trying to do their part as entrepreneurs look for sustainable alternatives to plastic-coated paper plates and cups, drink straws, freezer bags, trash bags and other sources of plastic waste.
How to fight plastic and contribute to a healthier planet?
This is not difficult. Buy unpackaged products – for example, vegetables, fruits, berries can be bought by weight, and not enclosed in plastic packaging. Buy in bulk so less packaging is produced. Minimize the use of plastic bags – by the way, the life of this thing does not exceed only 20 minutes, and the decomposition period is up to 200 years.
Refuse plastic utensils: “real” plates and glass goblets taken for a picnic look much more aesthetically pleasing and will not harm nature. Buy bottled water less often: you can buy a reusable bottle and take it with you after filling it with water. You can also do without straws in soda. A fabric bag taken to the supermarket or a beautiful rattan basket taken to the market will be much more useful both in terms of environmental friendliness and functionality. Buy toys made of wood, wool or paper for your child: it is safer both for nature and for himself. And for myself – clothes and shoes made from natural materials: cotton, silk, wool, natural leather.
If each of us follows these rules, it is quite possible to reduce the harm from the use of plastic – the main thing is to develop a good habit.