Plastic: The silent killer
Plastic- a miracle material that has made human lives easier. From our Tupperware to the cars we drive, plastic is present everywhere. We’ve created it, we depend on it and very soon, we will drown in it. Yes, you heard that right!
From the ice-covered Arctic to the tropical waters of the Pacific, there lurks a silent killer- plastic. Over the years, it has become a serious threat to all marine life.
What is the problem?
To begin with- all the plastic that has ever been created still exists. Over time, it might break down into tiny fragments, but it never goes away. Most scientists estimate that over eight million tonnes of plastic get dumped into the oceans every year. And that number is only expected to increase as plastic production and consumption continue. Scientists believe that by 2050, the oceans will have more plastic than fish.
The wonder material might have made our lives easier but it is a life-threatening substance to marine animals affecting nearly 700 species, including the endangered ones. Some are harmed visibly- they get entangled in plastic while most sea inhabitants are probably harmed invisibly. Marine species, right from zooplankton to gigantic whales, often eat microplastic, bits smaller than half a centimeter.
Another worry is- much plastic that ends up in the ocean gets dispersed by currents, making it irretrievable. The cluster of ocean plastic known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now three times the size of France. Imagine a country-sized garbage pile floating in our oceans. The menace of plastic pollution couldn’t get worse than this.
What can we do about it?
While an absolute solution to the plastic dilemma is likely years away, small changes can make a huge difference.
First and foremost, we need to forgo straws- the most sinister forms of plastic pollution. According to Ocean Conservancy, plastic drinking straws are consistently on the list of top 10 items collected in beach cleanups. Straws are harmful to marine animals and aren’t recyclable.
Switching to reusable bags and water bottles can also make a difference as single-use plastics are a large part of the problem.
We also need to organize beach clean-ups to remove plastic pollution from the shoreline and even underwater.
If each person dedicated their attention to the issue of plastic usage, we could help lessen the detrimental effects of plastic. This World Environment and World Oceans Day, let us take a pledge to beat plastic pollution.