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How to reduce the deadly impact of plastic pollution

How to reduce the deadly impact of plastic pollution

Environment

Maya Abraham

Maya Abraham

15 Sep 2019, 10:00 — 7 min read

Background: The use of plastic has become pervasive in our daily lives. Everyone, without exception, uses this one thing intentionally or unintentionally. Is the use of plastic being controlled or is it controlling us? Maya Abraham sheds some light on plastic pollution—its causes, effects and how each one of us can do our bit to mitigate this growing cause of environmental pollution.

What is plastic pollution?

It takes thousands of years for plastic to decompose. Plastic in our cities are currently simply collected and dumped in yards. The pollution emitted by the process of decomposition is called plastic pollution. Plastics which wash up on the shores also add to the plastic pollution. The fact that a lot of plastic bottles and bags are washing up on shores across the globe, in such a large numbers, shows that plastic usage across the world has increased. There are cases where sea animals have ended up needing help from humans as they get entangled in plastic (there are many videos which were posted in various social media accounts as a proof that plastic needs to be banned); many sea creatures have also died due to consumption of plastic!

 

It takes thousands of years for plastic to decompose. The pollution emitted by the process of decomposition is called plastic pollution. Plastics which wash up on the shores also add to the plastic pollution.

 

Causes of plastic pollution

  • Plastic used in packaging: Since plastic is cheap and convenient for one-time use, many people end up choosing plastic for packaging. This plastic finally ends up being burnt out in the open or ends up at landfills or dump yards.

  • Sea pollution: A lot of fishermen use plastic nets as it is easier to use and manage; these nets are spread across the sea. There are chemicals in plastic; to make the net as thin as possible, many chemicals are used. Since the fishing nets are submerged in the sea for long periods of time, it releases the chemicals and toxins present in the net. This leads to plastic pollution and can endanger the life span of sea animals.

  • Lack of regulations or control over the production of plastic: There are many companies producing plastic, and many who use it for packaging. India is yet to come up with regulations that discourage companies from using plastic excessively.

 

Also read: Earth Day: Small businesses that make a big difference

 

Harmful effects of plastic

1. Effects on the human body
Due to open landfills and dumps, and the proximity of it to human habitats, many people end up falling sick, some even with deadly diseases like skin cancer, skin erosion, hyperthyroidism etc.

2. Effect on marine life
Many sea creatures have ended up ingesting this plastic. Since synthetic chemicals are present in plastic, they end up dying. Many creatures such as whales, dolphins, sharks have washed up on the shores in the past years across the world. After examination, statements have been released stating that they had died due to plastic poisoning.

3. Effect on animals
There are many stray dogs, cats, cows, goats and other animals that end up consuming plastic dumped in trash cans and yards. This leads to plastic poisoning.

4. Effect on birds
Oftentimes, birds end up eating plastic in an attempt to eat the food contained in these plastic bags.

5. Effect on land
Since there is an enormous amount of plastic that is generated, multiple landfills or dump yards are being made to dispose of it. The toxic gases released affects the soil and the environment.

6. Effect on the oceans
The currents in the oceans have carried disposed plastics to all corners of the earth. It has even been found in the bellies of many sea animals. Citizens nowadays have started campaigns to clean oceans, beaches and lakes.

 

Also read: From ban to yes we can! - An entrepreneur's story of braving the plastic ban and reinventing his business

 

How can YOU help reduce plastic pollution?

þ Use reusable water bottles. Plastic bottles fill landfills.
Reuse your water bottle. Try to avoid packaged drinking water, the plastic package of which has to be disposed after its first use, merely adding to the plastic pile up that would remain in landfills for millions of years.

þ Carry your own shopping bag.
Going grocery shopping? Bring your groceries back in your own shopping bag, instead of the plastic ones given at the store.

þ Segregate your waste at home.
Waste that is segregated well, can be recycled.  Dry plastic waste is bought by those that buy or pick up old newspapers, to be recycled. segregate all waste.

þ Give up chewing gum.
Did you know that almost all chewing gums contain plastic?!

þ Avoid using disposable plastics.
Use disposable razors, plastic cutlery, plastic to-go containers etc. Use reusable ones.

þ  Do not litter.
Though this is a no brainer, it is shocking how a large part of our population callously throws plastic and paper waste on the floor, roads and pavements, instead of in a wastepaper basket.

þ Volunteer.
There are many associations who are in need of volunteers to clean the city lakes and parks. Help keep our country clean.

The above-mentioned solutions are some we can work on towards reducing the deadly plastic pollution. In order to have a cleaner environment, we need to step up and start the change, starting with ourselves. Only then we can inculcate these habits in others around us. You never know when you might inspire someone and start an organisation of their own to recycle or reuse plastic waste.

 

Let us all play our part to mitigate the problem and to find a solution.

 

Also read: Innovation in e-commerce packaging: Key to a sustainable future

 

Image source: shutterstock.com

 

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.

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Maya Abraham

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