How Pollution Affects the Environment

Do you like Seafood?

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Tons of waste dumped in oceans

Globally, this year

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TheWorldCounts, 24 April, 2014

Do you like Seafood?

Seafood is delicious and nutritious and we have relied on the bounty of the ocean as far back as we can remember. But if you know that the fish you love to eat is eating mercury, plastics and other contaminants – will you still eat it? What will it be like to have an ocean devoid of life-giving fish?

Water Pollution is caused by the trash that we throw in the water, or the trash that gets into the water from inland. 

Every year,  an estimated 2.2 billion tons of waste is dumped in our oceans. Some people and companies think of this as a solution to our waste problems. Obviously, they’re wrong. Marine ecosystems are dying out because of water pollution. We have garbage islands the size of continents floating in our oceans. 27% of our coral reefs have been destroyed.

More: Garbage Islands in the Ocean

Our generation today is more aware of how pollution affects the environment negatively. We are seeing the effects of decades of not caring about what we dump in our oceans. 

We thought it would go away, but how could it? Our planet is mostly made of water. Due to the waste that we throw into the sea, there is no place on Earth that hasn’t been touched. Our waste travels from one corner of the Earth to the other. 

How are we affected?

Our fish are dying. They are eating the plastics and other contaminants in the sea, mistaking it for food. It’s not just the fish through, whole marine ecosystems are being affected. The concentration of the toxic materials in our oceans can reach levels that are enough to kill all marine life.

The food chain gets contaminated. Small fish eat the toxic materials and they get eaten by bigger fish which are eaten by humans. We can get disease by consuming contaminated fish.  Contamination from Lead, Mercury and Cadmium can cause neurological damage, vomiting, multiple sclerosis, kidney failure, respiratory disease, gastro-intestinal disorders and cancer – to name a few.

These heavy metals get into the water either directly from the toxic wastes dumped in the ocean by factories or from the garbage dumps. When the soil absorbs these heavy metals, they will find their way into the body of water surrounding them, and eventually into our oceans.

How can we reduce our Waste?

The reason why we’re producing so much waste is because we usually throw away the stuff that we buy after 6 months. That’s not counting what we throw every day. 

But what if when we don’t need an item or product anymore, it can be used for something else? What if we can mimic nature where nothing goes to waste but is instead reprocessed for another purpose?

Businesses who are going green are now adopting the Zero Waste policy. This is a philosophy that uses the cradle to cradle model instead of cradle to grave. In this model, a product or material can be recycled into a new product when it reaches end of life! It goes through this cycle of reuse forever, which means it will never reach the garbage trash.

Support businesses that practice this philosophy to encourage all enterprise to practice the same. Not only will it make our society more efficient, it will drastically lower pollution. It will also reduce the need for more raw materials to make the stuff that we need. The cradle to cradle model is a positive solution to our waste and pollution problems.

You have the power to influence businesses, communities, industries, schools and your own home to do the following:

  • Practice the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. 
  • Stop our habit of wasting.  
  • Support those who are trying to protect our environment. 
  • Encourage green solutions by patronizing their products.
  • Use organic, home grown, biodegradable, hand-made and local products.
  • Use clean energy.

Less waste will mean that we will no longer have a need to dump them in our oceans. The fish will be happier and so will we. More seafood!

References

  1. Wikipedia: Zero Waste
  2. Tropical-Rainforest-Animals: Pollution Effects on Humans, Animals, Plants and The Environment
  3. Green Living: Effects of Water Pollution

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US$ income for e-waste worker

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Tons of hazardous waste thrown out

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