Pollution from Plastic

Plastic is Forever

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Number of plastic bags produced

Worldwide, this year

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TheWorldCounts, 03 May, 2014

Plastic is Forever

From bottled water alone, the US throws away enough plastic bottles in one week to encircle our planet 5 times! That’s just 5% of the global population. 

Globally, we use 160,000 plastic bags every second! 

These plastics when thrown in landfills or elsewhere, find their way into our oceans – killing the marine mammals that mistake them for food. This is just the tip of the plastic garbage issue that’s alarming environmentalists these days.

What makes plastic so harmful to humans, animal and plant life and our environment is that they’re non-biodegradable. It only starts degrading in 700 years. This means that all the plastic that has ever been produced has not degraded yet. 

Even when it degrades, it doesn’t turn into some other form that gets absorbed by nature. It photo-degrades, which means it only breaks down into smaller toxic bits of itself. It’s forever there. Pollution from plastic affects the air, land and oceans.

More Interesting Facts About Plastic Bags

What causes air pollution from plastic?

Plastic materials are everywhere. We use plastic bags, straws and plastic bottles for such a short time and then we dispose of it. Yet, they remain forever - toxic till the end.

When plastic is produced, it’s made from toxic materials such as benzene and vinyl hydrochloride.  It is destined to be toxic from birth to forever. These chemicals are known to cause cancer, and the manufacturing byproducts contaminate our air and soil. The type of plastic that is the major source of dioxin is PVC. 

Phthalates are another toxic chemical added to plastics to make them softer and more pliable. It is known to affect our fertility, disrupt our endocrine glands, birth defects and other health problems. The problem with phthalate is that they are not chemically bound to the products, so they’re easily evaporated into the air. That new “plastic” smell is the smell of phthalates off-gassing. Don’t sniff it!

Plastic kills

How many marine mammals and birds have died in our oceans because of plastic? When the plastic from our landfills and from shipping lines carrying plastic components get into our ocean, animals and birds mistake it for food and ingest it… and die from it. There is no place on Earth that plastic hasn’t reached.

To envision the magnitude of our water pollution from plastic, you need to see the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s totally unbelievable! An ocean gyre in the middle of has trapped garbage composed mostly of plastic and it’s now as big Europe, India and Mexico. It’s a floating garbage island!

More: Garbage Islands in the Ocean

Fish and shellfish get contaminated and we eat them. Large marine mammals die, disrupting our marine ecosystem. Every living thing in our ocean is affected. You enjoy seafood don’t you? We all do. That’s why it’s a great concern.

How you can help stop pollution from plastics

We’d like to say ban plastics! Recycling it is not solving anything. We just turn it into one toxic form to another. But until we find a new material to replace it, the best thing to do is to cut down on the use of plastics. Carry your own bags when shopping.  Recycle all your plastics. Keep it away from the landfill and away from the ocean.

It may seem like a small effort but it’s not. Together, we can drastically lower our plastic wastes. When there’s less demand for plastic, there will be a decrease in production too. This is your power as a consumer! You can lessen the demand.

We have created a world littered with plastics in 60 years. With all our technology and with our increasing awareness, we can still turn it around and prevent our children from inheriting a plastic Earth.

References

  1. Environmental Investigation Agency: The Shocking Impact of Plastic Solution in our Oceans
  2. Bang Info – Plastic Pollution
  3. Huff Post Green: How To Solve The Plastic Pollution Problem And Poverty At The Same TimeCoastal Care: Plastic Pollution
  4. Wikipedia: Plastic Pollution

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Tons of electronic waste thrown out

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