Guest post by Erich Lawson*
Waste management is a major challenge. One of the biggest contributors to ‘waste’ is plastic. A majority of our day to day products are either made from plastic or are packaged with plastic. However, a major consequence of this is, plastic waste has become one of the prime pollutants of our oceans and one of the major causes of global warming as well.
The plastic waste on land is carried to the seas with the help of winds and rains. Given its low density it easily travels from beaches to gyres, which is a type of system of revolving ocean currents. The number of plastic pieces in the oceans is in trillions! The waste plastic can be seen floating on the top of the sea water as well as lying on the sea bed. And, not just the ocean waters, the marine wildlife is equally suffering terribly, thanks to this waste created by mankind.
“every life form ingests plastic particles and even waste plastic products.”
The plastic debris in oceans is ingested by oceanic animals across the food chain. From smallest life forms like zooplanktons to the biggest ones like whales, every life form ingests plastic particles and even waste plastic products. Sea birds’ mistake floating plastic remains for food and feed these particles to their chicks, and hence the chicks frequently starve. Abandoned fishing gears often end up entangled in whales that as a result have to suffer a slow and painful death. You can find limitless stories on the internet today, about how this man-made contaminant is destroying the only planet fit for living in the universe.
Plastic is also one of the primary causes for global warming. It takes a lot of energy to produce packaging plastics as their core ingredient is made from non-renewable resources. The use of plastic releases tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere every year.
Appropriate awareness and action, even at small levels can bring about a sea change over a period of time.
We can mitigate the impacts of plastic waste by undertaking the following measures:
- Banning and Cleaning – Coast cleaning programs which are already underway need to be transformed to become more inclusive and rewarding to yield maximum outcomes. Strict and effective measures should be taken to ban plastic and replace it with green products.
- Reduce – We can reduce the demand for plastic in any form, by opting for eco-friendly options. This will eventually help curtail its production. This can gradually make a huge difference to the amount of plastic that is introduced in the ecosystem.
- Recycle and Reuse – Most plastic products are suitable for recycling and reusing. This can minimize the adverse environmental impacts of that plastic product. Also, even though our intent for recycling plastic has strengthened over the years, the processes undertaken has many deficiencies. Hence, the overall quantity of recycling has been poor. It can be overhauled by improving awareness, systems for identification and ease of access to recycling units in public spaces.
Thus, let’s not abuse the power we have been given by nature; that of being the most intelligent creatures in the food chain. We can all make a huge impact with even the smallest of alterations when it comes to using plastic in our lives. Let’s keep our oceans clean and planet healthy by reducing, reusing and recycling plastic.
*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.
Erich Lawson is passionate about saving the environment through effective recycling. He has written a wide range of articles on how modern recycling equipment can be used by industries to reduce monthly waste bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment savings techniques by visiting Northern California Compactors, Inc blog.