22 September , 2022 |

Environment

The Problem with Plastic Pollution

Plastic has become an integral part of our lives, and it's hard to imagine a world without plastic. No one ever wondered how they were granted to learn to turn brown stinky goo into magic - plastic. Plastic which is used to preserve food, pack goods, and manufacture household and industrial materials, has sadly turned into a tragedy; let's learn how it affects us through this blog :) Plastic is cheap sterile, and convenient, which plays a crucial role in human civilization. Sadly the incredible technology got a little lot of hand. What I mean here is it saturated our environment. It had already invaded the animals we consumed and made its way into our bodies.

What is Plastic? Plastic was nearly founded 100 years ago. The plastic is made from polymers - long repeated chains of molecule groups. The polymers exist in walls of cells, silk, hair, and DNA, but we can also create them. Breaking down the crude oil into its components and rearranging them we can form new synthetic polymers. Synthetic polymers are durable, hollow, and can be moulded into any shape we require. The best part about plastic is that it can be mass-produced with a limited amount of cost of production, low time consumption, and the raw materials are available in abundance. Since synthetic polymers are durable, it takes 500 to 1000 years to break them down, thus making it hard for the environment. 40% of the entire plastic across the world is used for packaging goods or commodities. Since its invention, we had produced around 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic, whereas in 2016 alone, a whopping 335 million metric tonnes of plastic were produced. 6.3 billion metric tonnes of waste have already been considered waste. If the entire plastic waste can be piled up, it makes up a cube with a side length of 1.9 km. 9% of the plastic is recycled, 12% is burnt, and the remaining 79% is still sticking around. The worst part is a lot of plastic ends up in the ocean, where more than 8 million tonnes of plastic garbage is disposed into the ocean. Needless to say, it will surely outweigh the number of fish in the ocean by 2050. Marine animals get trapped in plastic and swallow it. The research found that almost 90% of sea birds have already eaten plastic that can be found in and around the ocean. Due to this reason, the sea animals are unable to digest the plastic, leading to starvation and slow death.

Microplastics - The Silent Killer Okay, let's keep this topic aside and focus on the main culprit, microplastics. While plastic had already begun to disrupt the ecosystem, there's an even more widespread issue. Microplastics are tiny plastic pieces which are smaller than 5mm in size. Due to the UV radiation, the plastic gets divided into small pieces where more than 51 trillion particles float in the ocean, affecting marine life severely. Microplastic is used in cosmetics and toothpaste, yes toothpaste?! The basic human nature is that we only begin to realise or feel worried about something when it affects us, right? Let me tell you that microplastics have already started travelling up the food chain. Chemicals are added to enhance plastic Chemicals such as BPA is used to make bottle transparent. Yes, the Bisleri and Kinley water is what I am talking about. The BPA tends to interfere with our hormonal system affecting especially the testosterone in males. DEHP makes the plastic more flexible, but researchers state that it may cause cancer.

The Food chain As the plastic is found in abundance even deeper in the ocean, the zooplankton tends to consume microplastic. The fish consume zooplankton and followed by the oysters, crabs and other fishes consume these fishes which ultimately land up on our plate. Research states that microplastics have also been found in Honey, Table Salt, Beer, Tap Water and Household dust.

Does banning plastic save the world? Unfortunately, it's a bit more complicated than that. It is not the only environmental challenge we are facing. In fact, it is an alternative that creates a lesser negative impact in some aspects. Let me explain how. 1 Single-Use Plastic Bag = Little Energy Consumption + Less CO2 Emissions Whereas, the reusable cotton back, if only used more than 7100 times in its lifetime, helps in creating a lesser impact on the environment when compared to the plastic bag. If plastics don't exist, then the food waste ends up in the landfills which leads to the formation of methane gas that is harmful to the environment. Here comes plastic as a saviour that is helping out in preserving the food. Almost 90% of ocean plastic pollution is created by the Asian and African continents alone. In recent decades, countries like India, and China have shown a significant amount of development keeping aside the negative impact it is creating on the environment.

Way out It's time we join our hands together to fight on a global scale as it is a global problem, not limited to one country or continent. It is high time we make an impact on an individual level as the individual impact does matter a lot. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Refuse disposable plastics, carry your own bag and convince your friends and family to do the same. Together we can beat plastic pollution :) And kudos to the Indian government as well, since it has made a decision to ban the use of single-use plastic from the 1st of July this year. This, of course, does make a difference.

Article by Krishna Teja Reddy and Picture Source from Unsplash Credits - Kurzgesagt - in a Nutshell We think you loved this blog as you have made your way here. Fine then, show some love by sharing these amazing blogs with your friends and loved ones. Till then, cheers and good day. This is Krishna signing off :)

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