You are taking a walk by the beach and you see a floating object ashore. While you proceed to pick up the object you say a silent prayer, hoping it’s a bottle containing a map to a treasure island. Unfortunately, it is not and in disappointment, you say “it’s just plastic”. The realization hits you and you figure out that the same objects used for mere human utility is also a source of growing waste and pollution crises. Globally, plastic use and containers generate over 300 million tons of waste every year. These wastes are consumed by fishes, birds, animals and results in an endangered ecosystem which a poses threat to the global wellbeing.
Since the mid-50s the rate of plastic production has grown faster than any other material. While this has been helpful to the development of the economy, the later impact is dangerous. Close to 90 percent of plastics are produced from chemicals derived from oil, natural gas, coal and other non-renewable materials. The ocean is the downstream from almost every territorial location, it is the final point of which plastic generated on the land end up. When consumed, plastic affects mammals directly through the entanglement with their digestive system, as it is mistaken for food. By 2017, microplastics had been found in the organs of nearly 114 aquatic species according to research and these rates are still on the increase. The urgency to tackle the discharge of debris into the ecosystem cannot be overemphasized at this point in time.
In addition, there is a terrestrial side of the problem of plastic pollution. This is seen through the clogging up and blocking of the drainage systems. Waste dumps in residential areas lead to the disruption of flowing water through the pipeline lines and channels, flooding is inevitable. Often times, humans are the victims of these problems because of the loss of properties, products and lives. Plastic pollution can also occur without necessarily being littered, through the release of harmful substances into the atmosphere during production. Some of the substances used for plastic manufacturing are dangerous to the respiratory system. For example, Bisphenol contains strong adhesive substances that can disrupt the endocrine systems and lead to other health issues including low blood pressure, heart diseases, to mention but a few.
There is a need to tackle this global threat, the most effective methods should focus on preventive measures rather than corrective ones. The world must take prohibitive steps which include ensuring proper disposal systems. The attention must focus on curtailing unwarranted waste disposal by posing fines on individuals who commit such offences. Globally, the International organizations need to take a stand against countries that contribute to high plastic pollutions through the enforcement of international regulations. Also, the habits of recycling need to be encouraged. Statistics show that only 9 percent of plastic wastes ever produced has been recycled, 12 percent has been incarcerated while 79 percent has been left untouched. The mantra of reusing, reducing and recycling must be popularized. Furthermore, there is a need to educate the public on the dangers of plastic pollutions. This can be done through advertising on different channels, platforms and mediums.
Conclusively, we need to take the danger posed by plastic solution seriously. There is a need to slow the flow of plastic from its source and improve the general management of plastic waste globally. This is a public service announcement and a call to action. Because right now, mother nature is crying out for help.
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