Impact of plastic on the world

Plastic-Free Lifestyle, Zero Waste, Plastic Pollution, PlasticFreeJuly

Plastic has revolutionized the world we live in. It has transformed the medical, tourism, food, hospitality and pretty much every single industry. Light weight cars make use of trendy varieties of plastic to get the spare parts designed. Jumbo aircrafts are designed using plastic aiming at saving fuel and pollution. Think of clingy, light-as-air wraps to enhance the shelf life of fresh food. Airbags, incubators, mineral water containers, and helmets, you name it, plastic is in it. Though plastic has been highly beneficial to us humans, its rampant and wide-spread use has created environmental degradation on a massive scale.

Low-cost and light weight plastic are highly resilient and durable but the excessive usage of same leaks into nature. Here it negatively impacts wildlife, oceans, rivers, and humans. Eco-systems are irreversibly damaged on account of the excessive use of the same. Let us delve deeper into why and how this happens.

Types of plastic

Basically, you can differentiate plastic into two major types. These are:

  1. Macro-plastics and
  2. Micro-plastics

Macro-plastics design polythene bags, cigarette filters, bottles, containers, clothes, and Straws. Invariably, these materials are use and throw. Hence, macro plastic components can pollute or litter the surroundings around us. While micro-plastics are the bits smaller than 1/5th of an inch.

 

Check out our Instagram Live discussion with Sruti Harihara Subramaniam, founder of Goli Soda and you'll see how simple it can be to take steps to move towards a Plastic Free lifestyle. It's clearly an ongoing process, but what's important is we continuously take steps towards it. 

 

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We all know what a big problem Plastic can be in the oceans and on the roads, for the fish and the animals, and ofcourse to all of us. The very inspiring Sruti Harihara Subramaniam, the Founder of Goli Soda Store shares with us her journey and highlights the simplest of changes we can bring in our life. Going Eco Friendly doesn't mean doing anything fancy, it simply means making more conscious choices to avoid wastage and to not overburden the planet wirhore plastic garbage. Sustainability is important not just for us, but also for the future generations to be able to live in a clean, green world. @vveganostore @golisodastore #plasticfreejuly #sustainable #zerowaste #plasticpollution #govegan #ethicalshopping #plasticfree.

A post shared by Vvegano - Vegan marketplace (@vveganostore) on

 

 

 

Why is plastic degrading the environment we live in?

The key issue you need to primarily understand is this - Plastics are designed using synthetic chemicals in proportions barely known to us. This means, plastic is a material that rarely undergoes decay. A simple plastic fork takes 450 years or more to completely decompose.

Facts pertaining to the negative impact of plastics

  • Since 1950, the quantum of plastic that is being generated amounts to 8.3 billion tons. Out of which a staggering 79% of plastic wastes were dumped in land fills destroying the beauty of nature. 9% of plastic was recycles and 12% was incinerated. Even sanitary tampons women use is laced with macro-plastic, so it's important that we do make sustainable menstrual products accessible for women.

Sustainable Menstruation, PlasticFreeJuly, Zero Waste, Plastic Kills

  • If you take the annual production of plastic, it averages out to 300 million tons. Out of which a whopping 8 million tons of plastic wastes enter the oceans every single year.
  • For manufacturing a kilogram of virgin plastic, it takes just 2-3 euros. While production of plastic utilizes a huge quantity of natural water. To produce a 1-liter plastic bottle, the manufacturing company literally takes out 2-3 liters of portable water.
  • Again 99% of plastics are combined with chemicals derived from non-renewable resources like oil, natural gas, and coal.

You can therefore imagine the amount of natural resources we utilize to create tons of plastic.

 

Facts pertaining to wastage of plastic

When you talk about utilization of plastic for deriving high quality products, should not we consider how much of plastic wastes are dumped across landfills and oceans. Here, we let you know about the statistics.

  • Plastic wastes are expected to quadruple from 2010 to 2050. While plastic re-cycling facilities can cover only 14% of the wastage.
  • China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam generate more plastic wastes just to be dumped into oceans and rivers. This is against the statistical measure of plastic wastes calculated for other countries in the rest of the world.
  • 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used by people across the globe. The figure is calculated annually.
  • Highly developed countries may utilize high number of plastic consumables per person. But they have effective waste-management principles in place. Hence, leakage of plastic into natural resources can be way lesser. Poorer countries also have lower infrastructure to manage or dispose plastic wastes effectively. Consequence is dumping of plastic wastes into oceans and other water bodies.
  • USA alone recycles merely 14% of its plastic wastes while the rest gets accumulated in landfills.

 

Statistics over-viewing the long-term effects or consequences behind reckless usage of plastic products

  • By 2050, it has been estimated by nature conservationists that there would be more plastic as compared to fishes in the oceans.
  • 90% of bottled water and 70-90% of tap water are laced with plastic fibers.
  • 617,000 square kilometer area may be attributed to dumping of plastics via landfills or open dump yards. This is equal to the area that is three times the area of France. You call it the Great Pacific Garbage patch between California and Hawaii. 50 percent of this kind of a pollution can be attributed to fishing nets, ropes, and lines.
  • Sea-animals and birds ingest plastic. Almost 600 species of marine animals are affected by the rampant dumping of plastic wastes inside the oceans. It is estimated that by 2050, 90% of mammals would have plastic particles inside their stomachs as against 5% in 1960.

 

Can human health get impacted too?

Yes, humans can also get impacted when they regularly ingest plastic via seafood, snacks, bottled drinks, etc. But the quantum of plastic particles that can cause severe or irreversible damages to the body is yet to be ascertained. Salt, fish, honey, and beer are also laced with finer micro-plastic granules. As you had seen the impact of plastic materials or wastes dumped into oceans and rivers, you cannot undermine the huge amount of plastic materials sea-creatures consume. As so many people consume seafood, these plastic materials can invariably reach their gut.

Overall, plastic is useful to our kind as they provide durability or storage capacities. Whereas microplastic remains the breeding ground to take in toxins or other pollutants we have spilled into the natural world. Hence, organic materials, pharmaceuticals and pesticides that reach oceans get into micro plastic’s crust as tiny materials. These, when they enter your body can cause potential damage to your hormone systems.

There are people, who are in constant contact, dealing in plastic materials of various kinds. Say for instance, ragpickers from Bangladesh collect dry plastic materials and sell them for money. You have people working in plastic recycling industry that melt plastic to create small pellets. The consequences micro and macro plastics have on them is hazardous.

Conclusion

We have seen end to end aspects on how plastic acts as a boon as well as a bane. When you use plastic in moderation and replace your cups or straws with bio-degradable materials, you can expect a cleaner and a greener Earth. Recycling plastic wastes should be made mandatory. Those who dump plastic wastes into oceans or rivers must be fined heavily. In the end, our Future is in our own hands, and each one of us can make a difference. Let's aim to go Plastic-Free and if we aren't there yet, then lets start taking those steps.

 

Blog ideas inspired from: https://impacthub.net/plastic-the-problem-and-its-impact