When God granted king Midas one wish, he wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. Midas was delighted. Trees, rocks, buildings are all gold. But soon he found in horror that his food turned into gold as well. When he hugged his daughter to soothe his pain, he realized his mistake too late. The richest man in existence was starving, heartbroken, and alone. Humanity got a similar wish granted when we learned how to turn brown stinky goo into magic – plastic. Well, in this post we will tell you the facts about plastic pollution and how it changed our lives.
For most of human history, we relied on natural resources to construct the things we required. However, some 100 years ago, the invention of plastic radically transformed our environment. Polymers, which are long repeating chains of chemical groups, are used to make plastic. Polymers can be found in many places in nature, including cell walls, hair, silk, insect carapaces, and DNA. It is, nonetheless, feasible to make them. We can make new synthetic polymers by breaking down crude oil into its constituents and rearranging them. Synthetic polymers also offer unique properties. They’re light, strong, and can be shaped into nearly any shape. Plastic can be mass-produced easily without requiring time-consuming manual labor, and its raw materials are abundant and inexpensive, bringing in the golden period of plastics.
Facts about plastic pollution: How plastic is affecting the world?
Almost everything is made of plastic
PVC was used for plumbing electric gears and cases, Acrylic was used as a shatter-resistant replacement to glass, and nylon was used for stockings and war equipment. Almost everything nowadays is made of plastic, at least in part. Plastic is found in our clothes, phones, computers, furniture, appliances, homes, and automobiles.
Plastic has long since lost its revolutionary status and has become rubbish. Coffee cups, plastic bags, or banana wrapping material We don’t give this fact much thought. Plastic appears and then vanishes. Regrettably, it does not. Plastic takes between 500 and 1,000 years to degrade due to the durability of synthetic polymers. But, for some reason, we decided to use this super-durable material for disposable items.
Packaging accounts for 40% of all plastics consumed. Packaging accounts for 1/3 of all waste generated in the United States each year.
Plastic waste is a big danger to marine life
We have generated around 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic since its inception. In 2016, 335 million tons were produced. Since 1907, more than 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been discarded. When piled together, it forms a cube with a side length of 1.9 kilometers.
So what did we do with all this waste?
9 percent was recycled, and 12% was burned. However, 79 percent of it is still present. A great deal of it ends up in the sea. Approximately 8 million tons each year. By 2050, all of the fish in the ocean will be outweighed by trash. Because plastic is so prevalent, marine animals are constantly becoming entangled in it and consuming it. By 2015, 90 percent of seabirds had consumed plastic.
Furthermore, many animals become hungry because their intestines are filled of indigestible garbage. A dead sperm whale washed up in Spain in 2018. He’d consumed 32 pounds of plastic bags, nets, and a drum. While this is terrible and makes for wonderful magazine covers, there is another type of plastic that is far more common and invisible.
Microplastics are a great threat to living beings
Microplastics are tiny pieces less than 5 millimeters in length. Some are used in cosmetics and toothpaste, but the majority come from floating garbage that is constantly exposed to UV radiation and breaks down into smaller and smaller particles. 51 trillion of these particles float in the ocean, where they are even more easily consumed by marine life.
Scientists are concerned, particularly about the health risks posed by the chemicals added to the plastic. Plastic bottles, for example, are transparent due to BPA. However, there is evidence that it disrupts our hormonal system. DEHP increases the flexibility of polymers but may cause cancer.
Since microplastics go up the food chain, it would be disastrous if they were harmful. Microplastic is consumed by zooplankton. Zooplankton is eaten by little fish. Oysters, crabs, and predatory fish all do as well, and they all end up on our plate. Microplastics have been discovered in honey, sea salt, beer, tap water, even the dust in our homes. Pthalates, a common plastic ingredient, are found in the bodies of 8 out of 10 babies and nearly all adults, and 93 percent of persons contain BPA in their urine.
So far, there has been little science on this, and it is currently inconclusive. More investigation is required before alarm is justified. But it’s reasonable to say that a lot of things happened that we didn’t expect, and we’ve lost some control over the plastic, which is a little alarming.
What to do? Ban Plastic?
Is banning plastic the way to go? Unfortunately, the situation is a little more complex. Plastic pollution isn’t the only environmental issue we have to deal with. Some of the alternatives to plastic that we’d use have a bigger impact on the environment in other aspects.
According to a recent research by the Danish government, creating a single-use plastic bag uses so little energy and emits far less carbon dioxide than making a reusable cotton bag that you’d have to use your cotton bag 7,100 times before it had a lesser environmental impact than the plastic bag. We’re left with a complicated trade-off process. Everything has an effect in some way, and finding the correct balance is difficult.
Plastic also aids in the resolution of problems for which we currently lack sufficient solutions. One-third of all food produced worldwide is never eaten and ends up decomposing in landfills, producing methane. Plastic packing is still the greatest way to keep food from rotting and save unnecessary waste.
Major plastic pollution generation
It’s also worth noting where the majority of the world’s plastic pollution is now coming from. Only ten rivers in Asia and Africa account for 90% of all plastic garbage entering the ocean via rivers. Each year, the Yangtze River in China alone discharges 1.5 million tons of plastic into the ocean. In the previous few decades, countries like India, Algeria, China, and Indonesia have rapidly industrialized, altering the lives of billions of people.
This growth was so rapid that the trash disposal infrastructure couldn’t keep up with the collection and recycling of all the new rubbish. Investing in infrastructure in poor nations is just as vital as battling plastic pollution at home with campaigns and redesigning products to reduce unnecessary plastic manufacture if governments in Europe and the United States want to address this issue.
The bottom line: Facts about plastic pollution
Plastic altered our lives because it was inexpensive, sterile, and convenient. However, this technological marvel became a little out of hand. Our environment has been inundated with plastic. It has infected the animals we eat, and it is now invading our bodies. The facts surrounding plastic pollution are unquestionably worrisome.
The basic truth is that we will not be able to solve plastic pollution unless we address it from a global viewpoint. Plastic pollution is a difficult issue to solve. We discovered a magical substance and had a great time with it. However, we must exercise caution or, like Midas, we could find ourselves in a world that we do not desire.
Your daily acts still have a significant influence. It matters what you do! Reject single-use plastics. Persuade your friends and relatives to join you. Companies and governments should be pressured to take the steps necessary to maintain our waters clean and our food safe. We can defeat plastic pollution if we work together!
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