Little piece of plastic – actually doing any harm?
Did you ever drop a piece of plastic on the ground such as a chocolate bar wrapper or a plastic bottle and not think about what happens to it after you walk away? Ever stop and think; “maybe I should’ve picked it up?” Whether it was accidental or intentional, that piece of plastic can and usually does end up harming animals, fish or even us! Plastics are a huge problem which many people don’t realize.
Did you know, 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year? 10 metric tons of that is dumped into the ocean every day in Los Angeles. That includes: plastic bags, wrappers, straws, bottles, etc. Also, plastic takes over 1 million years to fully decompose and can do a serious amount of damage during that time. You may be thinking: “Is all this plastic actually doing any harm?”, “doesn’t it just break down and degrade like everything else?”. The short answer is; no. In fact, every single piece of plastic ever manufactured that was dumped, is still in our oceans, in our forests, underground, wherever it was left, it still exists in some way shape or form. Some plastic gets recycled, broken down and turned into something else. But most is dumped by people who don’t give a second thought about what happens to that little piece of plastic after they walk away.
Now let’s talk about how it enters the oceans, environment and in increasing cases, our food. Since plastics are found basically everywhere you look, it doesn’t take long to think about how it could end up where it shouldn’t.
The most obvious reason is because of pollution. But did you know plastic is also found in our clothes, toothpaste, shampoo and soap? When you wash your clothes, little fibres of plastic go down the drain from the washing machine, into the water supply and then either in the ground or in our oceans. Of course, you can’t stop washing your clothes but maybe try to buy clothes that contain the least about of plastic possible. Plastic in clothing is supposed to make the clothes last longer but that’s not always the case.
Microbeads, which are tiny fragments of plastic, can be found in some toothpastes, shampoos and soaps. They enter the environment and oceans is the same way the fibres from the clothes do. Fish think these little particles are food, because the food they eat (which are small fish or insects), look like these. Since we eat fish as a food source, it ends up on our dinner plates.
Other plastic materials such as plastic bags look very similar to jellyfish underwater. Turtles mistake these for food and end up eating them, thinking it’s a jellyfish. When it enters their stomach, it can’t be digested so they either starve to death because they always feel full due to the plastic or it gets stuck in their intestines where they can also die due to it causing a blockage.
Now let’s talk about what you can do to prevent further damage to our beautiful planet.
Just by simply recycling, you’re preventing more plastic from contaminating the environment. If you’re unsure what can be recycled, just remember almost all plastic can be recycled. Just make sure it’s clean when you put it in the recycle bin. Don’t worry too much if you put something in the recycle bin that can’t be recycled, they sort it out at the recycling centre anyway. Other materials such as glass and metal can also be recycled. To make sure you dispose of your rubbish properly, look at the packaging for the recycling information.
Simply don’t buy products that contain microbeads. It should say on the packaging whether it contains them or not. They may word them differently and call them something along the lines of “micro crystals”. Avoid any products that contain anything extra like this. On toothpaste, you can see if it has little bits in it from the picture on the front. These little bits are the microbeads that can help clean your teeth better. They’re not really needed so it’s best to steer clear. These are also found in soaps and other similar products.
Use re-usable shopping bags
As the title says, use re-usable bags, not just for shopping, for other stuff you use a plastic bag for. Tesco and Dunnes are examples of supermarkets that sell re-usable cloth bags. They may be more expensive to buy but think of it this way; you must buy a new plastic bag almost each time you shop whereas a cloth bag, you buy once and should last for years, not to mention they are much stronger than plastic bags. You’ll also be saving money in the long run by doing this.
As you can see, plastic is a huge problem for our environment, sea life and our health. We share this planet, so it only makes sense that everyone does their bit to help protect it, no matter how small that bit may be.
I’ve only scratched the surface of this huge problem but if you’d like more information, please check out the links below.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article.
Sky Ocean Rescue campaign https://skyoceanrescue.com/
How Plastics Affect the Environment
Reduce plastic pollution
Hello, I’m Ryan and I’m 22 years old. I’m currently studying Web Development in Adobe Dreamweaver. In my spare time I like to make dance music (and sometimes other genres) in FL Studio. I’m passionate about the environment and it’s well-being and hate to see it get destroyed by pollution.