Fight against Plastic Pollution
Do you ever consider the life of the shopping bag you use to transport your groceries or the plastic straw that seems to come standard now with most beverages? “A bag that is used on average for 15 minutes, yet it could take 100 to 300 years to fragment” according to SAS.org. These often one-time-use plastics do more harm than good when looking at their long half-life and the effects on our environment, even though their implementation into the market is growing at an exponential rate. When discarded, one-time-use plastics stick around in landfills thanks to their strong chemical makeup of man-made polymers. More often than not, sometimes these plastics sadly work their way from landfills and sewage lines into open waters. This transition opens up the problem of contamination of not only the waters but the sea life and ecosystems within it. Due to the problem of an exponential amount of plastics in our world, animals, and ecosystems; including ours are being polluted with plastic particles at an alarming rate. Therefore, it is important to realize how plastic is affecting our planet, the long half-life of plastic, and the alternate options available to the market.
It is easy to look around you today and take notice of all the ways plastic is incorporated into our lives. We use plastic utensils, syringes for hospitals, or parts for your car. Even though it is useful in most applications, plastic that is used for one time can end up as; shopping bags or drinking straws, and can result in the pile-up of new trash in our landfills. This premise is supported by a reputable editorial board, acknowledged the concept as too big of a problem to take one state at a time, but rather a national movement, and worldwide recognition of the problem needs to be made. If recognition is not taken soon, the ocean will be filled with more plastic than fish(LA Times). As the printing company put it, this goes hand in hand with the notion that single-use plastics are harming our environment. Plastic is not only a growing space in the fish’s ecosystem but a predator to its inhabitants. The text gives backing to the harmfulness of one-time-use plastics, as well as their long half-life for breaking down. This long half-life of plastic goes unnoticed by most, even though it is one of the main reasons for the unsightly build-up of plastic that doesn’t get recycled. Plastic is a useful product and can solve many problems, it also can cause worse problems in the long run as well. The latter problem is one that is sadly just getting recognition from the world. According to vocal activists for the elimination of plastic, and the citing of recent research, on one day in the United States, 500 million straws are used for all of our coffee’s and beverages. Adding to the total 175 billion that end up floating their way into the ocean or similar water canals. Thanks to big fortune 500 companies cutting out plastic straws, it proves that a combined effort by many makes it easy to make a difference(waste360). Simply put, an astonishing amount of straws are used every day around the world and the compound growth of plastic waste totals to a large sum. This figure gives us a need, and a reason, to take notice of this problem. Plastic abundance is no longer a growing problem, but a national and global environmental hazard to take note of. In addition to this, the effort shown by top companies reinforces the seriousness of plastic abundance by drawing attention to the slow-growing response and failure to implement new solutions in a hasty manner, by the general market as a whole.
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With so much plastic circulating through our hands every day, the question now is; plastic or planet? Due to the current global rate of plastic consumption, we may have to make this decision earlier than you would think. National Geographic labeled the concept as a “mass production of plastics, which began just six decades ago, has accelerated so rapidly that it has created 8.3 billion metric tons- most of it in disposable products that end up in the trash”(3). In essence, the world market has caught on to this highly versatile and rugged product that allows convenience in our lives. The popular product is growing in numbers and, in turn, so are the repercussions of plastic itself. The abundance of plastic is growing at an amount too high to uphold in the future. In response to this problem, Starbucks is said to integrate new “sippy cup” lids come 2020, these new lids will phase out the useless plastic straws, and in turn, it is said to eliminate 1 billion plastic straws a year just from Starbucks alone. Plastic straws have gotten less popular lately by consumers and are seldom recycled properly. Yes, these plastic straws are recyclable but due to their size, shape, and weight, these lightweight straws frequently get funneled out and find their way into waterways or landfills(Forbes 2). This movement is important to consider when looking at the actual effectiveness of recycling habits and procedures put in place currently. These plastic straws are in more stores than just Starbucks, the number of plastic waste from plastic straws will continue to grow exponentially if more companies like Starbucks don’t start taking action. With this said, however, new implementations into the market are not as responsive to the problem as many would hope. The slow reaction time to the problem only delays the cleanup process as a whole. National recognition of the problem would correctly provide enough attention, and therefore reason to fix the abundance of plastic on our planet. By doing so, new innovations, measures, and alternatives can be put in place at a more respectful pace in order to control the plastic epidemic we find ourselves in.
With plastic now being a highly abundant resident within our oceans. It is no wonder why many sea creatures and animals, in general, are being directly affected as a result of plastic in their ecosystems. One school of environmental sciences reports that when three identical samples of soil were taken from the suburbs of Shanghai, China. Found that the topsoil contained more microplastics than that of the deep soil, of those microplastics retrieved, 50.51% were polypropylene and 43.43% were polyethylene. Revealing the reoccurrence of microplastics pollution within suburban farmland soil(Liu, Menting et al). The main argument behind this report relates to the long-lasting effects of plastic on the environment and even the soil we use. These microplastics imbed themselves within the soil and therefore participate in the growing and maturation process of crops. This close exposure of plastic that crops and fruits undergo during the growing process can dramatically affect the overall outcome of the product. The result is a vegetable or fruit that is not only contaminated in pesticides but one that underwent a growing process full of contaminated nutrients. These figures provide enough reason to look into data regarding how microplastic intervene in a terrestrial ecosystem.