Plastic Pollution of Water and Air
Too many people think that because they recycle they are doing their bit. This is not the case. Let me as you something. If you flooded your kitchen due to leaving a tap on, your first instinct wouldn’t be to start mopping. It would be to turn off the tap. Am I right? Our plastic problem is no different. Too many people believe recycling will stem the flow of plastics. We have to get to the source of the problem and slow down the production of this plastic waste. Water and air are the two essential fluids on which all life depends, yet, these two essential fluids have become global bins.
Plastic pollution affects at least 100 marine species. At least 100 million marine mammals are killed from plastic pollution. This isn’t including fish or birds. Scary right? Single use plastic is a particular troublesome source. It can be things as simple as leaving a chip- poke on the beach, clingfilm from your picnic, the carrier you brought it in. Small things like this add up to a total of 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste being washed into our oceans every year. It ends up in the ocean from the smallest things. Like the wind. Because plastic is such a lightweight material, when it is being transported to landfill it is often blown away because it is so light. 80% of the plastics in the ocean comes from land activities. From the World Economic Forum, it is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean per minute. No matter what we do there is no guarantee our rubbish won’t end up in the ocean. Over the past 50 years wildlife populations have declined by 60%. Everything from fish, marine mammals and seabirds are being harmed and killed by the plastic in the ocean. It is believed that over 600 may go extinct because of it. Already 267 species have been affected. 84% of sea turtles, 44% of seabirds, 43% of marine mammals, however, more are being harmed every single day. Marine species are harmed by these plastics because they mistake floating plastic for food. Plastic is easily mistaken for jellyfish by sea turtles. Fish mistake plastic debris in the ocean as they appear the same and smell similar to their usual food. By 2050, it is estimated that there is going to be more plastic than fish in the sea.
From a 2015 report, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philipines were identified as the top plastic pollution nations. China however has the highest number of mismanaged plastic waste in the world at 8.80 million metric tonnes and 3.53 million metric tonnes of plastic marine debris entering the ocean yearly. Surprisingly the United States has one of the lowest amounts of mismanaged plastic waste at 0.30 million metric tonnes and their plastic marine debris at 0.11 million metric tonnes. Although they are still guilty of polluting oceans, they are much lower than China. However lets think of our own country. The UK have a huge role to play in China’s high numbers. Our country exports all its waste to places like China, Vietnam and Thailand. On a positive note China has now banned the import of 30 different types of waste, including plastic, the UK’s plastic mismanagement is going to increase dramatically by 2030.
How to Reduce Plastic Usage
Lets stop this! It’s simple things that we can do to stop the production of so much plastic. Buy a re-useable bottle (of course not plastic). If more and more people buy a re- useable water bottle we can make a change. 20,000 bottles are being bought every second. Suck it up and stop using straws! If you feel the urge to use a straw, you can purchase a stainless steel or glass straw, don’t let the whales suffer it. Stop spending 5p on bags every time you shop. A single plastic bag can take 1000 years to degrade. Scrap the plastic washing products. Buy boxed washing powders for your clothes. Cardboard is more easily recycled. Think about how much shampoo, conditioner and body wash an average household goes through a year! Try to switch to shampoo bars and soaps instead of nasty plastic. Toothbrushes are also a main object found in oceans and beaches. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush. Its literally the smallest things that make the biggest changes.
Big companies are making changes too. For example Carlsberg and Corona. Carlsberg have stopped using plastic to wrap 6 packs and are instead using a snap pack design. This will reduce the use of plastic by 60 million plastic bags. Corona is the first major beer brand to roll out 100% plastic free six packs rings. If these end up in our oceans, our turtles won’t suffocate, instead they will break down into organic materials. Like I said the smallest changes make the biggest difference. In 2014 California was the first state to ban plastic bags at large stores. Should UK be the next?
The main message I am trying to get across is that we have to reduce the amount of plastic we produce. We are literally destroying the world. We are the only people who are able to do anything about it. If we don’t kill it, it will kill us. There is no earth B.