Plastic Pollution Issue Overview

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Table of contents

  1. Cause & Affect
  2. Recent Initiatives
  3. Consequences

As Shannon L. Alder once said, “before you call yourself a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, or any other theology, learn to be human first”. But what does it actually mean to be a good human? Certainly not one that normalized disastrous issues like pollution in the name of profit and convenience. The On-the-go, modern lifestyles of people have made disposable products such as cans, bottles, bags, and straws a constant requirement. However, the accumulation of these products has led to plastic pollution, an issue that is as extreme as climate change yet constantly ignored. Plastic, a strong, durable, lightweight, corrosion resistant and relatively inexpensive polymeric material acquires this versatile nature which leads to its overuse to the point where its consequences in the long run are looked over its current benefits (Wabnitz & Nichols, 2010).What many individuals are unaware of, is that plastic has large non-biodegradable molecules, which in turn create toxic pollutants and lead to death among humans and wildlife.

Easy accessibility, the need to over-consume, and human hunger for plastics have become a deadly combination of lethal nature. Whether it’s being mistaken for food by animals, clogging drainage systems, or flooding low-lying areas such as beach shores and ocean banks, plastics have gained their much-needed attention as a large-scale pollutant in the recent years. Despite being such a big issue, the harms of plastic pollution are overlooked by society as most individuals find it hard to move away from the easy accessibility of plastic products.

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Plastic pollution is an issue that is quite often neglected in mainstream media and, consequently, everywhere else. If efforts to reduce plastic waste remain minimal, a study conducted in 2016 by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation states that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if measured by weight (Hornak, 2016). Based on this reality and possible consequences, it is crucial that humans are doing everything in their control to refrain from excessively using plastic products, finding ways to reuse them and making use of more biodegradable plastics in attempts to save the planet and its inhabitants.

Despite the fact that plastic production drastically increased during World War II, it was not until the 1970’s that the presence of plastic pollution in water bodies was recognized. Research conducted by the National Academy of Sciences (1975) measured that approximately 450000 metric tons of plastic are annually discarded at sea (Azzarello & Van Vleet, 1987). Modern lifestyles make it difficult to live plastic-free, as we are so accustomed to the convenience of disposing rather than reusing. Humans rely on the ability to dispose, whether it’s food containers, plastic grocery bags, garbage bags, straws, even everyday cutlery, and water bottles, without considering the impacts of the plastic in landfills. When plastic waste is improperly disposed, it accumulates overtime and adds to one of the five subtropical gyres that cover approximately forty percent of the world’s oceans (Moore, 2019).

Cause & Affect

The increase in plastic waste disposal evidently contaminates and poses an escalating threat to the marine environment, natural food-chains, water bodies, and in the end, human health. Since plastic pellets and granules come in various sizes, plastic pollutants affect organisms as small as plankton and as big as whales and humans. The ingestion of this poisonous plastic disturbs the food chain and causes an increase in death within all living things. The microscopic nature of microplastics prevents marine organisms from being able to detect their saturation on ocean floors. This causes fish to consume microplastics, the same fish which then become available in supermarkets for human consumption. The toxic chemicals within plastics also cause air pollution which in return leads to deaths amongst humans and animals.

Recent Initiatives

Although our ignorance may be the leading cause of animal deaths as well as poor human health, there is very little we are doing to stop it. Only recently have multimillion-dollar companies taken action to ban certain kinds of plastic products. Amongst all uses of plastics, United Nations figures evidently show that two-thousand out of the nine million tonnes of plastics are disposed straws (Abedi, 2018). Straws are also the leading reason as to why sea turtle species are seriously harmed (Wabnitz & Nichols, 2010). Recent initiatives from businesses in the food, hospitality, and entertainment industry like Starbucks, SeaWorld Entertainment, Hilton and Marriott have placed a ban on straws. Their recognition and understanding of how intense the matter is, is the first step in the reduction of plastic pollution. These companies aim at saving the lives of marine animals who mistake straws for food and ingest them. But what are we doing? Even though eliminating plastic straws rarely requires a drastic change, we refuse to adjust to reusable straws for the betterment of marine animals. Our selfish ways of life have caused many animals and humans to sacrifice a healthy lifestyle.

Consequences

Education on plastic pollution is extremely important for the public to realize the serious consequences of excessive plastic use and disposal. From the known impacts that plastics pose on humans and harmless marine animals, there is no reason as to why our society appears to do nothing in order to remove plastic from our lives. Immediate measures must be taken into place to regulate production, manage disposal and limit the distribution of plastics. Although certain alternatives such as bioplastics may be expensive, they biodegrade quicker than normal plastics and are synthesised from plant-based materials making them less harmful in the long run. Plastic can be replaced with reusable materials such steel, silicone, glass, and even liquid wood. At the end of the day, the ban of certain plastic products, and raising awareness of the serious consequences that follow with the overuse of plastics, may help in reducing the harm it causes.

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Plastic Pollution Issue Overview. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/plastic-pollution-issue-overview/
“Plastic Pollution Issue Overview.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/plastic-pollution-issue-overview/
Plastic Pollution Issue Overview. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/plastic-pollution-issue-overview/> [Accessed 30 May 2024].
Plastic Pollution Issue Overview [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2024 May 30]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/plastic-pollution-issue-overview/
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