Strung Out on Plastic
From containers to keypads, almost everything we use is made up of plastic. Plastic has been crucial to our daily existence since time immemorial. It is far from being an ordinary household item because it is used for both simple and complex tasks. Indeed, the use of plastic has continuously evolved until it has become ubiquitous. The question is, where do all the plastic wastes go?
While most people may not be aware of how plastic plays a part in their daily lives, it can never be denied that it is adversely affecting morbidity and mortality rates. Since it is non-biodegradable, its disposal to oceans and other waterways is creating a huge impact on the integrity of marine life. Remember what they always say about the oceans? What goes into it comes back to you. Yes, irresponsible plastic waste disposal may not be affecting you now, but it is only a matter of time before its consequences directly hits you and your loved ones.
Where Do Plastics Come From?
It is no secret that the ocean houses a lot of aquatic species. But while it may be large enough to support varying life forms, it certainly does not leave room for non-biodegradable wastes. Unfortunately, the oceans are being contaminated by used plastics that come from different platforms and ships off and onshore.
Statistically speaking, 20% of plastic litter comes from motorized equipment, while the remaining 80% comes from the improper waste disposal of both locals and tourists. Hence, if you think that the plastic bag you left along the shoreline won’t impact marine life, think again. Big, rolling waves can definitely catch wastes like this, and it is adversely affecting the seas and various life forms.
The Impact of Improper Plastic Waste Disposal to Sea Creatures
As plastics are thrown away in different bodies of water, these materials are being consumed by sea creatures. In fact, plastics are responsible for the death of around 100,000 sea turtles on an annual basis.
Since plastics resemble jellyfish, other sea creatures, including sea turtles, perceive them as a part of the food chain. Once consumed, these plastic materials block away the digestive system of sea mammals, eventually leading to death. The effect is very widespread since it isn’t only the culprit for the killings of sea creatures, but sea birds and other animals as well.
According to studies, 22% of cetaceans, 44% of seabird species and all sea turtles are found to have plastic components in their body. This is definitely proof that while plastic disposal may seem minor for us, its consequences can negatively affect varying life forms.
The worst part is, even if these plastics are not consumed by fish, they will still be directly affected by poisonous chemicals since these substances are channeled into both the sea and the atmosphere. Indeed, there is no escaping the overall impact of irresponsible plastic disposal to all life forms. Once this problem is left unresolved, there is little to no hope that the future generations will enjoy an environment free from health hazards.
The Impact of Improper Plastic Waste Disposal to Health
The toxic materials that make up plastic should not be our only concern. Plastics have the capability to absorb other poisonous chemicals near the shore, making it even more dangerous to sea creatures and to the ocean as a whole.
Improper plastic waste disposal greatly impacts the seas and the life that inhabits it. As plastic is thrown away into the ocean, it breaks down into smaller components that are highly consumable by fish and other sea creatures. As a consequence, we become susceptible to diseases as we become victims of our own negligence whenever we consume fish and other foods that are outsourced from waterways. The process continues until red flags signaling us that there is something wrong with our health become apparent.
As testament that plastics are greatly impacting our health, studies show that around 93% of Americans who are 6 years and older produced positive test results for BPA—a toxic chemical found in plastics.
What Makes Plastics Toxic?
While humans are not genetically cut out to make plastics a part of their diet plan, improper waste disposal in the ocean also means that you are welcoming toxic substances to your doorsteps. Direct toxicity can be fatal as plastics contain chemicals that are extremely dangerous to health. To provide you a clear preview, below is a list of some of the elements present in plastics:
- The Hazardous 3: Plastics contain mercury, lead and cadmium—some of the most poisonous substances that can cause serious health diseases once directly ingested by humans.
- BPA: Once the polymer chains of bisphenol A are broken down into tiny pieces, unwanted consumption can cause problems that could affect human hormonal function.
- DEHP: DEHP, also known as diethylhexyl phthalate, is a carcinogen. This means that this chemical is responsible for contracting various kinds of cancers.
How to Save Ourselves from Plastic
It is apparent that plastic is everywhere. In fact, it is present even in the air that we breathe. However, it is not too late to involve ourselves in saving the oceans that will in turn help us save ourselves from future health hazards. By being proactive in minimizing plastic waste and moderating our lifestyle, we can absolutely change our fate.
Remember the 3R’s? Yes, reduce, reuse and recycle. While it may be challenging to reduce plastic usage, it is far from being impossible.
Reducing wastes means taking a closer look to the choices we make as consumers. Instead of using plastics that only degrade after hundreds to thousands of years, it’s best that we turn to utensils and other materials that are not made up of plastic.
Instead of buying drinking water, carry your own container so you can help clean up the environment 1 plastic bottle at a time. Bringing a sturdy lunch box is also better than patronizing sandwich bags and the likes.
Ditch the bottled shower gel for a long lasting, quality bar soap. Ever hear of Hair + Beard bars? They exist and work great. Disposable razors? Try a straight razor that can last a lifetime and is manly as FU*K. Looking at reducing the plastic associated with your daily grooming has a big and lasting impact.
Lastly, going digital can also help you reduce plastic wastes. Thanks to the Internet, you can now download movies and music without buying tangible CD’s and tapes that add up to environmental wastes.
Reuse—the term says it all. Unfortunately, only a minimal percentage of plastic is being re-used on a daily basis. The rest of it is being disposed, with plastics taking up about 10% of American wastes. By re-using our plastic bottles and containers, we are helping eradicate environmental dilemmas.
Aside from recycling plastic containers, it is best that you pick out recyclable plastic materials on your way out of the grocery. If you really need to use plastic, choose either HDPE or PETE. Or better yet, bring your own eco-friendly bag. This way, you can help save the environment in your own little way.
A Friendly Reminder
In addition to playing an active role in minimizing plastic use and protecting the ocean simply by not throwing away wastes on it, you can also take proper care of yourself by creating a diet that is not mainly comprised of fish. This way, you are not only able to take care of the environment, but your health as a whole. By combining an eco-friendly and active lifestyle with healthy food choices, you are lessening your chances of contracting debilitating ailments.
Taking small baby steps may not be enough to change the world, but it is definitely a great way to help raise awareness. This way, we can be unified in protecting ourselves from irresponsible plastic disposal. Remember, we can either nurture or destroy our environment—the choice is always ours to make.