Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to the health of the ocean worldwide. With skyrocketing production of plastics, low recycling levels and poor management of waste, almost 4 to 12 million metric tons of plastic enter the waters across the world every year. In 2009, 30 million tons of plastic is produced by the United States of America itself! This amount of plastic is estimated to be double in the coming 10 years. In the ocean, pollution due to plastic effects whales, sea turtles, coral reefs, fish, seabirds and other innumerable numbers of marine species. According to a report by the scientists in 2012, it was announced that almost 100 % of sea turtles and half of the seabirds have eaten plastic during their lifetime.
Animals are either tangled up or ingest the plastic by mistake thinking them as their food. 80% of the plastics are dumped into the ocean from land either due to heavy rain, storm drains or overflow of the sewers.
Plastic pollution is also affecting the coastlines, beaches, snorkel, and many diving sites across the world. One of the major reasons for worry regarding plastics is that it does not decompose, are non-biodegradable and stays in the ecosystem for more than 100 years that the other forms of wastes. With time, the plastics break down into smaller pieces that are known as microplastics whose consequences are still unknown.
How to Prevent Plastic Pollution?
Everyone has some roles to play to decrease the number of plastics that enters into the seas. Below are a few ways that can make a difference in reducing plastic pollution in the environment. They are:
1. Stops using single-use plastics
The most effective way which can have a vastly positive effect on reducing plastic pollution is preventing the utilization of single-use plastics. Water bottles, cups, dry cleaning bags, straws, utensils and take out containers made of plastics fall under the category of single-use. The best way to stop or avoid using single-use plastics are as follows:
- Ban the use of plastic items that you do not need like plastic bags, straws, take out containers, utensils, etc.
- Always carry with you the reusable versions of the plastic products like reusable bags, bottles, utensils or coffee cups.
2. Active participation in the River or Beach Cleanup
Prevent the plastics from going into the ocean in the first place, by participating in the group cleanup campaign of the local water bodies or beaches. This is one of the most rewarding and direct ways to stop plastic pollution. Collection of the plastics and other debris from the beaches along with friends and family is a good one to prevent this contamination. International cleanup events are also organized in different countries regarding this purpose.
3. Prevent the Usage of products Consisting of Microbeads
Microbeads that are microparticles of plastics have become an integral part of plastic pollution in recent years. Face scrubs, body washes, toothpaste and face wash are the major source of microbeads. Due to their small size, the microbeads enter the different waterways and ocean through our sewer systems, thus affecting thousands of marine animals every year. Always look out for polyethylene and polypropylene on the lists of ingredients before buying any product especially the cosmetics on.
4. Properly recycling of the Plastic Products
Avoid purchasing plastics. If you are buying one, check if it can be recycled or not. At present only 9% of the plastics are recycled across the globe. Recycling assists in decreasing the amount of new plastic production and circulation and prevents spreading of them into the ocean. Check with your local center for recycling about which types of plastics they recycle.
5. Ban on the usage of plastics
Many countries and organizations around the world are putting bans on the use of plastic and products made of plastic. The government of various countries is also spreading words of awareness and caution among the common people regarding the harmful effects of plastic usage.
These are some of the basic ideas to address the increasing problem of plastic pollution in the environment. The most important thing to prevent it from spreading is to do something about it, no matter however small it may be.
6. Do not Buy Food Items Packaged in Plastic Containers
Buying food items packed in a glass jar rather than plastic is an intelligent choice to prevent plastic pollution. While opting for the first one, you are not only playing your bit to save the environment but also sending a strong message to the manufacturers to stop the plastic packaging.
Other ways to Avoid Pollution made by Plastic
Other than the above-mentioned ways, there are other ways also top reduce plastic waste in our daily lives. Now take a quick tour of them as follows.
- Instead of using plastic straws or utensils, purchase a metallic or glass utensil is more feasible for plastic pollution
- Instead of plastic bags for groceries, carry a bag made of fabric that can be reused and washed.
- Avoid using gum that is a synthetic form of plastic
- Buy packaging boxes made of wood or paper in place of plastic
- Always opt for the reusable cups or glass made of paper instead of plastic containers while buying on the go beverages
- Invest in a metal lighter that is refillable or use matches in place of plastic lighters
- Always use ceramic kitchenware instead of plastic wares at home
- Use cloth diapers for your kids to save the carbon footprint as well as money. It has been estimated that in the USA, 7.6 billion pounds of diapers that are disposable are discarded each year. The disposable diapers, needless to say, are made of plastic
- Use reusable blades for your shaving purposes in place of disposable razors.
So, let us all take a small step by stop using plastics on our own and make it a ‘giant leap for mankind’. This way, we will be able to put a halt in the marine as well as the pollution over the land.