Next time you throw away a plastic bottle after taking a few sips of water from it, please stop to consider how you might be contributing to the death of our planet.
It is no secret that plastic is among the most hazardous materials polluting the Earth. At an average a small plastic bottle takes about 450 years to decompose. This simple fact should have been alarming enough for both the governments (who continue to take environmental degradation lightly) as well as the masses (who carelessly add to the plastic waste by using hundreds of plastic items per household a month) to make drastic changes to protect our planet from drowning under the weight of plastic waste.
However, despite the fact that we have known about the harmful effects of plastic for decades, its production has increased by 20% since 1964. 311 million tonnes of plastic was produced in 2014 alone! This production is expected to double in the next 20 years and quadruple by 2050.
This increase in plastic production is happening at such a frightening pace partly because we refuse to recycle. Instead of making use of discarded plastic to recreate new products, we have simply been following the policy of producing new plastic. Of the millions of tonnes worth of plastic produced each year, only 5% is recycled because its cheaper for the manufacturers to produce new plastic rather than recycling it.
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So where does all the plastic waste go?
- Accordingly to studies about 40% of the plastic waste fills acres worth of garbage dumps.
- About two-thirds finds its way into oceans.
- The remainder is burnt, consuming harmful fossil fuels to produce new plastic items!
How is Plastic Waste Affecting Us?
The threat that plastic waste poses to the survival of Earth is more real today than ever before. Let’s take a quick look at how it’s killing our environment as you read.
- 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the oceans every year. In simple words, this means dumping one large garbage filled truck into the ocean every minute!
- By 2050 the ocean will have more plastic than fish.
- When this plastic waste decomposes within the oceans, it releases toxins, which are consumed by the marine life. When we eat “sea food” we in turn also absorb these harmful toxins.
- Living in a time when oil is considered more valuable than money itself, we use about 1.5 million barrels of oil annually to make plastic bottles alone! We then use millions of tonnes worth of more oil to transport these bottles from one place to another. By the time the water-filled plastic bottle reaches us, the water inside it is more contaminated than good old tap water!
- Ever wondered why the world is struggling with an increase in such illnesses as cancer today more than ever before in history? Part of the reason is the high number of toxins that our bodies are consuming by breathing, drinking and generally living in an environment plagued with plastic waste.
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What Can We Do To Help?
- Phase out the use of plastic products as much as you can. For instance use paper bags instead of plastic bags while doing grocery shopping.
- Install a water filter in your homes instead of consuming water from plastic bottles.
- Ask your government to reduce plastic production and its import.
- Start a local campaign to encourage recycling by local manufacturers.
- Think of innovative ways to make use of discarded plastic items – you can’t imagine the huge favour that you alone will be doing to our planet by practicing recycling at home!
- Spread the word and make as many people aware of the harmful effects of plastic waste as you can.