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Plastic Pollution Effects on Marine Life & Humans and How Can You Help?

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Plastic contamination has professed life-threatening effects on the human population and wildlife all around the globe. Our fast-paced lifestyle has made us extravagantly dependent on disposable items, that we are ignorant of its extreme ecological outcomes. Studies reveal that five trillion disposable plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is intended to be utilized just once and then thrown right away into the garbage.

Plastic is made up of a deadly combination of various chemicals and is non-biodegradable. It owns alluring characteristics, which makes it a favorite commodity among sellers in the market.

It is cheap, waterproof, lightweight, and adaptable. But what happens to it once it is tossed into the trash? It doesn’t just vanish within days. A plastic bag you might have used today will take up to thousands of years to decompose in landfills.

Plastic Alarming for Sea Life

Plastic Pollution Effects on Marine Life & Humans, How can You Help?
Image by DarkWorkX from Pixabay. Plastic Pollution Effects on Marine Life & Humans, How can You Help?

Plastic waste is on everybody’s mind as it has become a prominent part of our ocean habitats. Garbage reaches seas through major rivers and collects more and more trash as they move downstream along the transport line. But once it enters the ocean currents, now it can be carried all over the world.

Water currents, sunlight, and wind crush these plastic wastes into small particles, which are known as microplastics. These contaminants enter the water column and become part of the atmosphere and municipal water system.

A large number of marine animals lost their life to plastic pollution. The majority of the sea creatures die either due to entanglement or starvation. Turtles, whales, and other animals are more likely to get choked by disposable six-pack rings and abandoned fishing nets.

The micro-debris produced by the incomplete degradation of plastic is unintentionally ingested by various species of fish, mussels, and shrimp, which are later consumed by humans. These marine creatures packed their bellies so much with these microplastics that their desire to eat diminishes, causing starvation.

According to a study conducted in 2017 evaluated that 1.15 to 2.41 million tons of plastic enters the seas through waterways yearly. On the off chance, if plastic contamination continues to grow at this pace, our seas could contain more plastic than fish by 2050.

Adverse Effects For Humans 

Various chemical additives are being employed during the production of plastic and related products. These synthetic elements are carcinogenic and can pose serious health complications in humans. Significant levels of BPA (Bisphenol A) and Phthalate additives have been detected in the human population. These compounds can invade an individual’s system through nose, skin, or mouth.

BPA is used to make various everyday items such as dinnerware, plastic drink containers, food cans, toys, and lots more. This substance can disrupt the function of endocrine glands and consequently cause serious health condition known as hypothyroidism.

Furthermore, when we heat food commodities wrapped in plastic containing BPA, phthalates may leach into the food. This migration becomes noteworthy when the chemicals get in contact with fatty foods such as cheese, butter, oil, and meat. The USDA Food Safety advises not to use disposable containers while heating the food items as these can aid hazardous chemicals to leak into the food.

Phthalates are a group of chemicals that make plastic more flexible and durable. The exposure of this chemical to humans can cause obesity, reduction in the levels of sex hormones, and other ailments related to reproductive organs. Plastic Pollution is an undeniable reality and a growing threat to human well-being.

Slow The Flow 

The world is suffering from plastic contamination issue, and it’s snowballing day by day. This subject has gained a lot of attention recently, and various countries throughout the world have taken initiatives to control its levels up to permissible limits.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau declared a ban on single-use plastic items and also ensures that the government will take necessary steps to reduce plastic pollution. Furthermore, Peru’s Congress has also passed the law to discontinue the production of disposable plastic bags. Their goal is to replace plastic bags with reusable, biodegradable plastic which do not degrade into harmful contaminants.

Major companies all around the globe are also focusing on tips to save the planet by cutting down the plastic waste they generate, but what about the plastic already residing in water bodies? Don’t worry! Next Wave to the rescue, it is a coalition of different companies, including Dell and Lonely Whale (an environmental group).

They employ individuals living in seaside areas who gather disposed of plastic inside 30 miles of conduits to prevent it from advancing toward the ocean. Then the recovered plastic is delivered to manufacturers who reuse it, creating new plastic.

Brands and reputed organizations can spread awareness regarding plastic pollution among the general public. Ocean plastic shoes designed by Adidas and Edible six-pack rings launched by Salt Water Brewery are prominent examples in this regard. These brands have concocted some good thoughts to clean up the sea and empower change.

What Trends To Follow 2020:

In the past few years, the emphasis has been put on awareness campaigns to combat this storm of plastic pollution. Putative firms and corporations have a huge role to play in this regard. They have launched zero-waste strategies, encouraging businesses and customers to prevent the trash from winding up in landfills. The text below will throw light on trends that need to be followed in the upcoming years to deal with plastic havoc:

Corrugated Packaging

E-commerce business approach has become very popular in the modern digital era. As the online shopping trend is increasing extravagantly, corrugated packaging will become more prevalent in the future. It is more eco-friendly and biodegradable, making it more acceptable than conventional plastic.

Avoid Unnecessary Packaging

The industrialists are adopting minimalism packaging approaches for its products and avoiding excessive decorative features. Social media generation who follow influencers with “go green slogans” is more likely to buy such sustainable commodities in the future.

Employ Recyclable material

Eco-friendly products have been an influential inclination this year, and the forthcoming years will be not much different. The manufacturers are concentrating on producing packaging stuff from 100% recyclable substances. Natural materials will soon replace plastic packaging, helping companies to maintain their environmentally-friendly credentials.

Edible packaging

Our planet is drowning in plastic pollution and edible packaging is a prominent step in making packaging biodegradable and comestible. Eatable cutlery items have gained enormous attention recently, and manufacturers are deliberately trying to enhance the product line. You can consume your culinary item once you have finished your meal.

Don’t Throw Disposable Freely

Previously, every leftover material from plastic water bottles to organic wastes was destined to dump into a single garbage container. This system makes the recycling procedure a very troublesome task. Workers need to separate the recyclable items manually and then sold them to other companies for reuse.

Lately, a bin system was introduced to the general public to ease the entire process of recycling. This system consists of three trash containers, each colored and labeled separately for different types of waste items.

A yellow bin is restricted for dumping clean paper, cardboard, aluminum/steel cans, and rigid plastic containers.

A green bin is only used for disposing of small prunings and cuttings, leaves, shredded paper, pizza boxes, hair, and any food waste. This bin is highly restricted for biodegradable stuff.

A red bin is for general household rubbish, including soft plastics (e.g. plastic wrap, bags, and bin liners), nappies, kitty litter, clothing, garden hoses, broken glassware, and foam packaging.

Conclusion

Plastic contamination is everybody’s concern and us as a whole need to accomplish more. Be a part of an awareness campaign or participate voluntarily in cleaning water bodies in your hometown. Reuse plastic items at home, transform it into some useful stuff by using easy DIY ideas. You will feel a sense of satisfaction by playing your part in lessening the plastic scrap in landfills without spending a dime.

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Claudia Jeffrey
Claudia Jeffrey is currently working as Tourism Planning Manager. She is an environmental activist and owns a small business. Claudia loves to travel and mingle with bilingual people.