All the polythene bags, wrappers, containers that we put into the bin and the plasters, plastic bits that get flushed down the drainage disappear right under our noses. Then we expect them to vanish just like that! They don’t disappear. They are going somewhere. That somewhere is either the ocean or a landfill.
We have all seen the dead albatross chicks with stomachs full of plastic; the turtle suffering from the straw stuck in its nose; the stork engulfed in a plastic bag in a landfill in Spain. These animals are just one or two out of thousands of suffering innocent lives on Earth. They have no part of their plight. It is all our fault. Locally, we witnessed our own people, children who died as the Meethotamulla garbage dump collapsed on to them.
Yes we know there is an issue. We know it is serious. But do we consider it seriously enough? Or is it that we are still stuck in false notions to consider these synthetic polymers our best friend? I say it is both these issues.
Plastic pollution is everywhere. We all use it. All forms are suffering from it. That is why we must care.
Plastics are hazardous!
Plastics contain harmful chemicals that are endocrine disruptors. It is a well known fact that polyethylene terepthalate (PET) bottles contain bisphenol A.(Sax, L. ,2010) They will cause chemical imbalance, promoting unnatural changes in our bodies. Recent studies have found microplastics in drinking water.(Readfearn,2018) There are microbeads in several sanitary products and cosmetic items. Polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, polylactic acid are the most common plastics used for making them. (Drahl, C.,2016) We are using poison to cleanse ourselves and then we release them through the pipeline. Polythene and plastics are used to pack and handle food and beverages for “cleanliness and safety” being ignorant of the hazardous nature of that material.
You trust the the glass to hold the drink but you don’t trust it enough to put your lips on it to drink it. Do you remember the first straw you used? How about the last one? If you put together all the straws discarded to the oceans, they can wrap around the planet for over 4 times. Somewhere, a straw you used is stuck in an innocent animal and it is suffering because of it. That straw will be there on this planet for millions of years, but it was used only once.
Say “no!” to single use plastics
Single use plastics occupy a greater part in plastic pollution. That is something for which we have a solution: use reusables or natural materials that are biodegradable. It will be difficult to turn towards that solution directly. When you get used to it, it won’t be a problem anymore.
- Say “no” to single use plastics. You have the choice of not using a straw or taking your own reusable metal,wood or glass straw with you.
- You can use a lunch box to carry your food. Or use a plant leaf to wrap it.
- Don’t be shy to eat with your hands. Discourage the use of plastic cups, plates and utensils that are used just once. If you want any spoon or fork take a metal one with you.
- Take your own bottle of water to be refilled.
- Take your own cloth bag out to shopping. Avoid polythene covers, bags and wrappers whenever possible.
- Buy from bulk stores where you can buy goods off the shelves. Take your containers to the shop and refill them. This way you are helping the local economy by visiting shops in the locality.
These would be a few small steps to start off with. Surely it doesn’t hurt to make a little effort. This planet is much worthier than any of our mere wants. Once you are on this path you will find your own solutions to get away from plastics.
Let’s do more than our bit!
The idea is not to give up on your life. It is to let go of unnecessary burdens we’ve added to our lives unknowingly.
Plastics were an invention that changed the world. It helped transportation of medicine, fragile items, arms and ammunition. They were affordable, lightweight, came in any shape or color. It gave way to a “Throwaway life”. So then came all the things made of plastic that you would use and throw away. No one ever thought what would happen “after”, which we now worry about. It’s ironic how the effort to extract crude oil from the Earth, refine it, polymerise, shape, color, pack, transport, buy it, carry home and then use once to throw away is considered effortless to what it takes to washing the plate after using it.
Nobody is perfect. We could be a part of the solution or part of the problem. The fact that we do whatever we can, whenever we can will be a huge change when all of us get together. Let go of “I’ll do it later; let me wait till the other one does it; what would others think?” At this stage where we are it is not even enough to be a completely plastic free person. We must also take measures to clean the polluted environment. While looking for a solution to clean the planet of all the pollution we have caused, let’s try our best to stop doing it anymore. The only solution to stop pollution is to “stop polluting”.
We have to change from our hearts and our minds. Change not only to say no to them, change to urge others to join you, change to clean the pollution that has already happened and stop any pollution in the future. Let us all do more than our bit to save this world!
Sax, L. (2010). Polyethylene Terephthalate May Yield Endocrine Disruptors. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(4), 445–448. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2854718/
Drahl, C. (2016, January 09). What You Need To Know About Microbeads, The Banned Bath Product Ingredients. Forbes.
Readfearn, G. (2018, March 15). WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water. The Guardian.
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