Environmental Impact of Plastic
EnvironmentalImpact of Plastic
Plasticis a well-known synthetic material, known and used by many people. Itis a type of organic polymers which is slightly elastic made frompetroleum and polypropylene, polystyrene, polyethene, nylon, andpolyvinyl chloride. Over the past fifty years, the use of plasticshas increased steadily by people travelling in the marine areas henceincreasing the number of plastics disposed of in the marineenvironment. There is a cause for alarm due to the increased disposalof plastic materials in the oceans which affect the aquatic lifedirectly. There is a relationship between plastic disposal in theenvironment and the disruption of aquatic life especially in theocean posting a cause for alarm.
Plasticfragments that find their way into the ocean are consumed by theorganisms in the ocean posing a danger to the health of theorganisms. It has also been discovered that the greatest effect ofplastics in the ocean is that once the sea birds and fish swallowwater that is contaminated by pieces of plastics, it blocks theiringestion system and on the other hand especially for the fish itblocks the respiratory systems. There are times when the fragments ofplastics have toxic wastes such as mercury and other hard metalswhich are poisonous to aquatic life (McKie , 2016). Research carriedout in 2015 by the Environmental Science and Research in the USrevealed that huge quantity of microbeed plastics finds its way intothe marine environments on a daily basis through such a worryingstatistic is an indication that large microplastics’ quantities aregreatly impacting the maritime wildlife. The authors also discussthat the microplastics’ ingestion significantly harms the filterfeeders such as crustaceans. They further write that additionalmicroplastics to the oysters’ diet will result in seriousrepercussions on most of the aquatic organisms. Organisms that filterfeed are important components of the maritime food webs. Therefore,their death is a threat to many trophic levels, as well as theindividuals who feed on the species. None the less, microplasticshave chemical components that affect the reproduction system of floraand fauna. Additionally, a lot of plastics float on the marine water,while quite an enormous number has also sunk to the floors of theoceans. The floating plastics can affect the aquatic ecosystemthrough the provision of a ready habitat for the organisms. Themicrobial, animals, and plants species that find an available habitatin the plastics are usually transported far from their originalhabitat. For instance chemicals like DDT combine with particles ofmicroplastics, and when they are swallowed by animals, they pose amajor impact on their health. Environmental scientists have foundthat when postmortem tests are done on aquatic wildlife and birds,there are large quantities of microplastic particles found especiallyin their reproductive parts and respiratory systems. In the recentpast, the number of premature death of aquatic life has been on theincrease and while the life span of the animals has decreased byalmost a half. Research stipulates that there will come a time whenthere will be no aquatic life if we do not take care. The implicationfor this is that there will be fewer tourists visiting and eventuallydecreasing GDP because there will be a less foreign exchange (McKie,2016).
ProposedSolution to the Plastic Problem
Thefirst solution towards the eradication of plastics is the reusefactor. We find that plastics, especially paper bags, are used onlyonce by consumers, and they are disposed of. The question that isalways posed by environmentalists is that is there an alternative tothe plastics? Some countries feel that plastics are a problem of thedeveloping countries because several developed countries have beenable to reduce the use of plastics by a great range. For instance,in Australia, the use of polyethene plastic bags in supermarkets hasbeen replaced by recyclable packaging bags. The thing whichenvironmentalists always advocate for is reuse recycle and reduces.There are many factories that produce plastics, and completeeradication of plastics may pose a risk to the economy, yet still theeffects of plastics on the environment are evident. The otheralternative is to recycle. If at all it is impossible to reuseplastic bags, it would be wise to recycle because it reduces thenumber of plastics disposed of in the environment. Another solutionto the plastic issue is by the creation of the awareness on theeffects of plastics on the environment. Many people dispose ofplastics carelessly due to the lack of information about the dangersit poses to the environment. Creation of awareness will go a long wayin sensitization of the public on why we need to reuse, recycle andreduce the use of plastics for our good. To crown it all thegovernment is very fundamental in the creation of policies thatregulate the use of plastics (McKie, 2016).
AssessingOne of the Solutions Offered
Oneof the solutions which sound most practical for as far as plasticsare concerned is recycling. Recycling simply means using alreadymanufactured products which are already used as part of the rawmaterials for production of new plastics. The greatest advantage ofrecycling is that apart from reducing the amounted disposed plasticsin the environment, it reduces the economic price implication ofmanufacturing. For instance, plastics that are used and collectedfrom eating joints or city trash beans can be melted back and usedagain in the manufacturing of more plastic items (McKie, 2016).However, recycling has proved to be a challenge for plastics thatfind it way to oceans because the interaction between the plasticsand water makes them loose some atoms which are necessary for themanufacturing of plastics. None the less, if recycling is consideredseriously by environmentalists, it could turn out to be the bestoption to reduce the amount of plastics already disposed in theenvironment.
Mostof the plastic items that pass through our hands are used only once.For instance, plastic bags from the grocery shops, disposableutensils, coffee and ice-cream lids and straws. Some of these itemscould be used more than once but we find our self-using them justonce and disposing them. One of the actions I can take towardssustainable use of polythene bags is by weaning to use them as muchas possible. In food outlets today you reckon that they find itconvenient to pack foods and drinks in plastic disposable utensilswhich are disposed after one use. To mitigate the disposal ofutensils, I would opt to cook food at home. When there is dare needto use plastics, they should not be disposed in the environment afteruse. In turn they should be stored reused and recycled if possible.As a way of environmental protection, I would boycott the use of allmicrobeeds products such as toothpaste and face scrubs which containplastics in them. In one way or another, the components of thesemicrobeeds find their way in marine life causing harmful impacts inthe marine ecosystem. Being an environmental ambassador, I would joina tax ban which advocates for charges over any plastic item disposedin the environment. Since I am aware of the effects of plastics tothe environment, talking to friends and family on how we can reuse,and recycle plastics in our home to reduce the number of plasticsthat are disposed at a diary basis could go a long way inenvironmental protection (McKie, 2016). The government is very goodat coming up with policies to govern environmental impacts butunfortunately, the adaptation of these policies takes so long andsometimes policies are never adopted at all. There are countries thathave come up with policies that regulate the usage of polythene bagsin the environment but it has not been practically possible. Onething to note, plastics are short lived items. So as much as they canbe recycled, they cannot be reused over a long period without gettingdestroyed, unlike other materials such are glasses which are muchmore durable. I would like to adopt the environmental policy thatforbids the manufacturing of plastics and plastic by productscompletely. This act would go a long way in environmental protection.The act will enable people to find alternatives to plastic items anddoing away with plastic products completely.
Inconclusion, plastic papers play a perilous role in the pollution ofthe environment, as well as the poisoning and killing of oceaninhabitants. The floating plastics can affect the aquatic ecosystemthrough the provision of a ready habitat for the organisms. Themicrobial, animals, and plants species that find an available habitatin the plastics are usually transported far from their originalhabitat. As such, they invade new residential places, and they maydemise if they find the new habitat inhabitable. The natural balanceof the Earth is also at the risk of being disrupted due to thepresence of the plastic wastes in the oceans since such wastes cannegatively impact the atmospheric levels of CO2 that are subjectiveto current. Human beings are the greatest beneficiaries to aquaticlife hence they have a responsibility of taking care of the aquaticlife.
McKie,R. (2016, January 24). Plastics now Pollutes every Corner of theEarth. TheGuardian,Retrieved fromhttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/24/plastic-new-epoch-human-damage
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