Our extent use of plastic is rapidly rising to become one earth’s biggest concerns. Because plastic has always been so cheap and convenient, we have come to a point where this magical piece of technology has invaded our world with more plastic than we can imagine. As we continue to grow as a population, so does the amount of plastic we use. In Ritchie’s words, “By 2015, the world had produced 7.8 billion tonnes of plastic — more than one tonne of plastic for every person alive today” (Ritchie). However, plastic does have its advantages and is very useful. Its low cost makes it very affordable which makes it even easier to produce when it comes to wanting a big amount. But because of it’s great harm and overproduction, we are better without it. By this, we are harming our environment and the human population itself. But what is plastic pollution? Plastic Pollution is when plastic itself has accumulated in a certain spot or area to a point where it impacts the environment in different ways such as our animals, air, and humans. Being that plastic objects are negatively contaminating our environments, they are becoming so harmful that plastic should be mostly banned.
Now there are many causes to why we have such high numbers in plastic pollution. First reason being, manufacturers have found the magical piece of material “plastic,” as very cheap and easy to produce. Plastic is the easiest and cheapest kind of material for anyone to get their hands on. Plastic being widely flexible and easily capable of being used in many ways, has found its ways to be in almost everything we use today.
Bringing us to our second we are simply overusing plastic more then we need. This reason being is that plastic is so easy to get in contact with. Take a look around and examine. Plastic is everywhere such as our clothing, cars, household items, coffee cups, glass jars, etc. The list goes on forever. We begin to depend on it more and more every day. Which only makes it worse for us especially when trying to find a way of removing plastic all together but of course that is not possible.
Now plastic being the tough and durable material it is, when we begin to dispose so much of it, it begins to accumulate because of how long it takes to decompose. The water bottle you threw out last week is going to see more of life than you will ever see. It has been studied and proven that plastic takes hundreds and thousands of years to fully decompose. According to Rick, “Normally, plastic items can take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills. But plastic bags we use in our everyday life take 10-1000 years to decompose, while plastic bottles can take 450 years or more” (Leblanc). When we dispose of so much, we only add on to the problem. So because of this, this has lead us to the problem we have today, plastic pollution.
But where does it all begin? As of now, as plastic begins to accumulate at our landfills remember it all starts because of us. When we buy and decide to hand over our money to these large manufacturers, they only produce more plastic. Manufacturers have never found plastic as a problem we see today. As long as they are receiving revenue, they will only keep producing plastic because they view it as a material that is durable and safe to use in their products. So because of us, as we give and continue to give our money, manufacturers will only produce more and more of it without taking consideration of its negative effects. This has led to environmental issues all around the world. Whenever we dispose of this product remember, what’s causing plastic pollution is you. Let us stop feeding these manufacturers with our hard earned money and instead be reusable.
With all different causes occurs different effects. But ever since plastic was created, its growth in our industry has boomed. With plastic being widely flexible and easily capable of being used in many ways like said, it has found its ways to be in almost everything we use today. From ranging anywhere to being in our clothes, to our food packaging. It has all summed up to becoming a problem where we have so much of it that it creates so many side effects, only because of how easily disposable it is. The first effect being on marine life. Plastic pollution has become very harmful when it comes to affecting wildlife in the ocean. To strangling innocent creatures by their neck or having swallowed a plastic bag, is only two of the few examples in how we are harming our second innocent world. A study was done by an organization called “Sea Turtle Conservancy” which stated, “Over 1 million marine animals (including mammals, fish, sharks, turtles, and birds) are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean” (STC). This statistic proves we are harming not only ourselves but innocent animals too because of the careless ways we dispose and overuse plastic.
Which brings us to our second effect, plastic pollution is affecting our food chain. Because plastic comes in different sizes, when plastic is broken down into tiny little pieces, small organisms such like planktons or algae will be poisoned for consuming these microscopic pieces of plastic. This will then later affect other creatures who depend on their prey to survive, such as fish, crabs, jellyfish, turtles, etc. As mentioned tiny pieces of plastic can be consumed in the fish we eat today. As the food chain rises, who knows, that plastic bag your ancestor wasted years ago can be in your body right now. So why not just go to your local supermarket and bring a reusable plastic bag.
And lastly our final effect. Plastic pollution has led to bad air and land pollution. When plastic is sent to local landfills and is mixed up with different substances such as dirt or water, this causes harmful chemicals. These harmful chemicals have been then researched to then seep into our water, and downgrade its quality. Not only this but when plastic is stacked up upon each other, it has also been researched that wind has the ability to blow the plastic all around our city or neighborhood. Air pollution is another big problem. Adding on to the bad chemicals being released from our cars, when plastic is being burned at these landfills, they only release more harmful chemicals. The organization “The World Counts” stated, “These chemicals are known to cause cancer, and the manufacturing byproducts contaminate our air and soil” (TWC). So as a result as they are released, these harmful chemicals are later then breathed in harming our lungs and our health overall. This results than in bad long-term effects.
Plastic has revolutionized as technology keeps becoming better. It is lighter and more durable than ever before but is it really worth it when it is slowly killing us as we use it. Banning plastic overall isn’t a good idea but having restrictions against is definitely a way to go. For example in Chicago, you are charged an additional 7 cents for each bag you use. After this implementation was put down the Chicago Tribune stated as a result, “Shoppers who were on the bring-your-own-bag bandwagon before the tax went into effect said it’s pushed them to be more diligent” (Chicago Tribune). This shows what they did, was effective. Chicago implemented this because we are obviously using more plastic then we should be which is why this new implementation is good for our economy and from preventing world disaster.
With all the negative effects of plastic pollution, the only thing that we are capable of doing is finding ways of reducing our plastic waste. Having plastic banned completely isn’t the best solution for our world. Our best solution is to find different ways of reducing plastic waste and informing these bigger companies that there are other ways to stay away from plastic. The first change that has already been implemented and everyone should be doing is shop friendly. Shopping friendly is a huge big start when trying to make a change. Imagine how many plastic bags people come out with plastic bags after done shopping. Carrying a reusable bag doesn’t only save plastic but also spreads the word that it should be a habit that everyone should get used to. Another way of reducing this plastic waste is to stop buying plastic water bottles. Now we all need water because of how much water we must consume to stay hydrated. But do we really need to waste 24 bottles of plastic after being used once? Why not just buy a water bottle and buy a water filter for your sink so you can stop all the waste. This will definitely reduce plastic waste and make a huge change. And lastly, we should educate those about plastic in ways we can replace it and recycle it. Having restaurants informed that there are different ways that you can replace plastic, such as bamboo, is a great beginning to starting a movement. Also, we should educate everyone around the world in how to recycle and make it a rule where it is mandatory to do so. Remember it only takes one person to make a change, and if are willing to take that extra step you are not only saving an animals life but more importantly yours.