Be Informed and understanding why Plastic is bad for the Environment

“There are 500 times more pieces of microplastic in the sea than there are stars in our galaxy and by 2050 it is estimated there will be more plastic than fish” ~ Ian Johnston: Environment Correspondent in an article for the Independent.

The effects of plastic on the environment and human health are overwhelming and needs to be controlled. Due to the lack of appropriate disposable methods of plastic, it is unable to be strictly controlled. Plastic trash gets sent to landfills whereby three things occur;

  1. Plastic is processed into microplastic which is used to manufacture cheaper low-grade products which also releases toxins harmful to human health.
  2. Plastic is burned and, in the process, emits toxic gases into the atmosphere which is harmful to the planet and to human health.
  3. Plastic is recycled and reused.

The two key characteristics that make plastic so difficult to replace is the usefulness of its light weight and durability. Synthetic plastic is not biodegradable but is photodegradable. This means that majority of the plastic will never disappear. Instead, over time, plastic breaks down into ‘plastic dust’ or ‘micro plastic’ which absorbs and releases harmful toxins which contaminates our water, soil, aquatic and land wildlife and human health.

AQUATIC LIFE

With more than 8 million tonnes of plastic landing up in the ocean every year, the amount of microplastic particles is said to exceed 500 times more stars in our galaxy. Aquatic mammals easily mistaken plastic for food and ingest them or become entangled by plastic. If they survive the ingestion without chocking, then it is likely their digestion system will begin to block and will eventually die a slow and painful death due to toxicity or digestive blockages. This negative impact on sea life has dire consequence on the ecology of the ocean, in that, too many abnormal changes in death rates of one species will easily threaten the existence of another species or organisms.

Microplastics found on the shore. Photo credit: 5 Gyres Institute

Seabirds, death by plastic Photo credit: www.childfriendlynews.com

LAND AND WILDLIFE

A lot of plastic lands up in natural wilderness areas due to human littering or they are carried by the wind. The inability of plastic to biodegrade means that wild animals and birds will find them and ingest them. This causes a slow and suffering death. Animals will either suffocate on the plastic or it will cause them to starve to death since their intestines are blocked by the consumed plastic. It is estimated that plastic is the cause of death to one animal every three months. This disrupts the balance of the natural ecosystem’s trophic pyramid and destroys life that depend on that fragile ecosystem. Plastic debris absorbed by the ground inhibit soil nutrients and prevent the growth of botanic life.

“Safaris of the Future if we don’t stop littering!”

Photo credit: one green planet

Photo credit: Litter In Wildlife National Parks – Rescuer’s Heart For Animals

HUMAN HEALTH

There is more and more concern for the adverse effects and health risks of plastic on the human population. Chemicals are used in the manufacture of plastic to alter the properties of plastic to be softer, harder or change colour. Humans are exposed to three channels of toxic threat namely through air and water, food sources like seafood and direct contact with plastic products. Toxins deriving from plastic are said to be linked to cancer, birth defects, impaired immunity, respiratory and endocrine problems to mention a few.

We need to take a stand against plastic pollution and in so doing, effect positive change the world. Drink tap water filtered by a water filter or from a water filter jug. Try and refrain from buying water where possible. Opt for glass containers and most importantly don’t litter. Keep our natural environments clean for future generations. Shift your mindset from “it’s not my job to pick up someone else’s litter” too, “I’m doing this for the planet and because I am a guardian of Nature.” All of EcoTraining’s programmes talk about the ecology of trophic pyramids and explains in greater detail the impact of our actions on the environment. Consider a nature course with EcoTraining and learn more about the natural environment.

Photo credit: water lovers

Take a look at this video about ‘the story of bottled water’ by Annie Leonard. She shares with us how ‘manufactured demand’ pushes what we don’t need and destroys what we need most.