Plastic pollution is an important topic that should be discussed and analyzed more then it currently is. The amount of plastic has increased scientifically that has only destroyed ecosystems. There are ecosystems that are being deterred due to improper disposal and Species are at risk with some being on the endangered list. Due to its low recovery rate and as production and consuming increases, there are policies and decisions to be made in order to combat this worldwide issue. Below, will be several facts to give a better understanding of the current issue with plastics.
- Since the 50’s, approximately 8.3 billion tons of waste have been produced which is equivalent to the weight of more than 80,000 Eiffel towers. (Crazy, right?)
- Researchers have found that 73% of the beach litter is plastic. The majority of the people who go to the beach will take food and beverages. Many of these people are not picking up after themselves and instead leaving their trash on the beach. Proper disposal is not being enforced by many beaches which only has consequences for ecosystems.
- Approximately 2 million plastic bags are being used EVERY minute. About 1.1 million Seabirds and animals are being killed due to plastic particles they ingest. “ Plymouth University has found that close to 700 species of marine life are facing extinction due to the increase of plastic pollution” (Mwamba, 2018).
- Over the past 50 years, plastic production has doubled, and the consumption rate is drastically increasing. The national Geographic estimates that by 2050 there will be 12 billion metric tons of just plastic in landfills.
- Plastic is strong and flexible meaning that just ONE plastic bottle can last 450 years on land and ocean. That being said, bottles starts to slowly deter into smaller fragments which becomes even more dangerous to wildlife to consume.
- Lastly, we (humans) are affected not just marine and land animals. Surfers against sewage says, “In seawater plastic absorbs chemicals like PCB’s and DDT’s which have been linked to endocrine disruption and even some cancers, becoming more powerful as they work their way up the food chain” (Surfers against sewage, n.d.) You have most likely have ingested some type of seafood containing small fragments of plastic in your life.
Actions- We have policies and personal action
Policies: There are policies and treaties being talked about to as we speak and between countries. Last week, the United Nations had a group meeting on litter and microplastics in hopes of creating an international negotiating committee. There is support besides the U.S and U.K who failed to participate. “In 2017, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) formed an Ad-Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group (AHEG) of member states, industry representatives, and other stakeholder experts to analyze information and report options for combating marine plastic litter and microplastics (PlasticPollutionCoalition, n.d.). Hopefully soon we will hear what was fully discussed in the meeting and what will come from this committee. What we hope for is a global treaty that all nations will follow and enforce. California is on the road with an initiative to make the state plastic free. If we follow California’s initiatives, we can create better alternatives to all the items we use daily.
Initiative- * Reduce plastic * Restore and protect environments* Increase recycling
How can California and the rest of us achieve this initiative? Funding protection, reducing the amount of plastic and increasing manufacture fees are ways we can create a policy. California states the following, “This initiative harnesses the power of consumers, business and government so – together – we can rethink how we use and dispose of single-use plastic and achieve a healthy future for our ocean” (PlasticPollutionCoalition). By taking these steps, we can ban single use plastic bags, protect rivers/oceans, and fund recyclable materials.
Change– Policies can be created but we need individuals to be able to take the initiative seriously and make big changes themselves. We have gotten into a habit of using plastic without realizing the harmful effects there are by just buying groceries. There are alternatives to plastic such as reusable bottles, bags, containers and straws. Most people will have a hard time making the change but will notice the good effects from it. you may ask how people will be willing to make the drastic change and what will it be in for them? The majority of people do not know they consume plastic without knowing by eating produce. We need to make it available for this type of information to be accessible and for everyone to know the danger they are faced with. Consuming enough fragments can do so much harm to the body and by that information being out, people will be more aware of the consequences. An imposed fee will make it harder for individuals to use plastic as it will get expensive and perhaps have a fee increase. The majority will be discouraged from using plastics and start looking for alternatives. Policies and passed laws will create fear as laws have to be followed not chosen to. For example, companies will be more likely to produce less or stop the plastic production if there are hundreds-millions of dollar fees if found to not be cooperating.
Pros to no plastic-
*Banning plastic bags can increase employment
*Reduces the cost of goods
*Less tax money on having to pick up litter
*Marine and land life will improve
*infrastructure systems will run smoother and efficient.
Fun Fact: decrease in plastic bags means a decrease of mosquitos. When bags collect rainwater, that then becomes a breeding ground for the mosquito population.
In conclusion, we need to pass policies and laws to protect our well-being, wildlife, and the earth in general. There are so many advantages to banning or limiting the use and production of plastic and we will see major differences between the way we see the world now and the way we will see it if we take this initiative seriously. We are becoming more aware of this issue and starting to give it importance. Some countries have already banned single use plastics and increasing measures to put an end to it. Hopefully, we will see some turnout arounds to this issue.
10 Plastic Pollution Facts That Show Why We Need To Do More. (n.d.). Global Citizen. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/plastic-pollution-facts/
California Initiative to Fight Plastic Pollution Submits Petitions to Qualify for Statewide Ballot. (n.d.). Plastic Pollution Coalition. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/blog/2020/8/13/california-initiative-to-fight-plastic-pollution-submits-petitions-to-qualify-for-statewide-ballot
Global Treaty on Plastic Pollution Gains Momentum. (n.d.). Plastic Pollution Coalition. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/blog/2020/11/17/global-treaty-on-plastic-pollution-gains-momentum
Pros & Cons of a Plastic Bag Ban | Factory Direct Promos. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2020, from https://www.factorydirectpromos.com/blog/pros-and-cons-of-a-plastic-bag-ban/