Quickly disposable products like soda cans or water bottles have become one of the significant components of our on-the-go lifestyle. The accumulation of these products has thus led to an enhanced volume of plastic pollution around the world. Plastic is composed of highly toxic pollutants that have the potential to damage the environment in the form of land, water, and air pollution.
To put it in simple words, when plastic gathers in an area, it begins to harm the ecosystem around it negatively, which includes, plants, wildlife as well as the human population. Though plastic is an incredibly revolutionary and useful invention, it causes irreversible harm to the environment. For instance, the killing of wildlife, danger to local animals, harmful toxins entering the human body, and so on.
There is no one single contributor to this pollution but the interplay of the various phenomena that result in the situation.
Urbanization and population growth
The consistently increasing population growth is one of the significant factors. With an increase in urban growth, the demand for inexpensive and readily available materials also increases. Notably, in any city, plastics constitute around 80% of all municipal waste.
Universality of use
Plastic is the most affordable and readily available material in the current times. It is easier to make, discard, and offers extended durability. These characteristics make it a vast pollution menace. They are used in home utilities, bottles, bags, cans, packaging materials, and whatnot. Even after its disposal, it takes hundreds of years to decompose completely. Interestingly (and unfortunately), the very first plastic that was ever made still exists on this planet!
Inexpensive and affordable manufacture
Since plastic is the cheapest material to manufacture, its production has gone up by multiple folds owing to the high consumer demands. This quality makes it perfectly suitable for making every single utility, including packaging wrappers, toys, bags, food containers, cans, and so on.
Though it appears inexpensive to manufacture, the environment has to pay significantly for its high production and use.
Plastic is among the most easily disposable items owing to the small size and lightweight. Typically these items have a short use period, which is why people find it unnecessary to keep the remaining plastic. Therefore, most of the plastic is eventually found lying by the roadside, collected in the bins, or discarded in landfills.
Marine shipping and fishing industry
The shipping and fishing industry also plays a significant role in the increase in pollution, especially in the oceans. Fishing nets are usually made of plastic which leads to toxins leaking into the water. These harmful elements adversely harm marine wildlife in various ways and are also ingested by marine creatures.
Once having entered the water, the debris takes a lot of years to decompose, thus, killing the wildlife and polluting the water. Also, the remote rural beaches get the plastic washed to their shores which also leads to land pollution.
What can we do?
There are multiple things that one can do within their capacity to fight this menace.
Always remember the Rs
These 5 Rs are very helpful in dealing with plastic pollution, i.e., Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Remove, and Refuse.
Reduce refers to individual plastic usage. Reuse suggests minimizing the consumption of single-use plastic. You can use clothing and other material that is more environment-friendly instead of going for synthetic fibers. Recycle, refers to returning the unused plastic to the grocery shops, which can then be sent to the recycling plants and can be made into useful products.
Remove refers to taking the initiative of removing plastic waste from public places that you visit. Refuse, refers to stop using simple avoidable plastic items like straws, plastic bottles, and so on.
Make your voice heard
Generating awareness is one of the core strategies to beat plastic pollution. Behavioral changes are the hardest to induce. Therefore, you need to continuously keep reminding your friends, family, and neighbors about the adverse effects of plastic consumption.
Also, you need to be mindful of backing up your arguments with facts and research to make a better and long-lasting impact. Engage in discussions and interactions with the community, constitute youth groups, and initiate a conversation such topics. This might also result in devising methods suitable for the community to tackle the situation. It is required to make our voices heard.
Government and politics also play an essential role in the existence and further worsening of the situation. Stricter legislation and proper implementation will result in reducing the production and usage of plastic in everyday products.
Also, proper structural mechanisms for recycling used plastic products and encouraging the usage of other materials through introducing incentives and subsidies can prove highly beneficial for the environment.
Plastic pollution has become an issue of international attention today. It is high time that we mend our ways to protect our environment from any further loss. It is only by standing up together that we can achieve this goal of a healthier and safer environment.