Plastic. This seven letter word which is a common commodity in our daily life has been a reason for killing innocent animals and interfering with our ecology that’s making our Earth a difficult place to live on. Before we understand why we must stop using plastics, let’s first explore it’s origin. Plastics are made by chemically bonding oil and gas molecules together called monomers. These monomers are then combined to make polymers which are called pellets. Millions of pellets are melted in a manufacturing plant which are transformed into various shapes like bottles, cups, etc. Plastic was first discovered 125 years ago in an attempt to make a product that is flexible. Little did we know years down the line it’ll become a threat to human existence. I say plastics are good as they are used in almost all the products that we use in our life. The problem begins when we’re done using the product made of plastics and discard it unceremoniously. Everything has an end of life which we generally call wastage. Plastics also go through this last stage. If you can manage the plastic waste, that’s absolutely fine. However, if you can’t manage the plastic waste, the outcome is nothing less than the fate of our only planet Earth.
Let’s enlighten ourselves with disturbing facts about plastics.
-Plastics take upto 1000 years to decompose.
-50% of the plastics used are thrown away. (unmanaged waste).
-500 billion single-use plastic bags are produced, not as of now, but every year.
-8 million metric tons of plastics end up in our ocean every year. It’s like dumping a truck full of plastic waste into the ocean every minute.
-5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the Ocean.
-In the last 40 years, we have used more than 8000 billion metric tons of plastics which has become waste.
-And the most disturbing fact is every plastic ever manufactured is still on this earth.
We all are living blissfully unaware of the mountains of plastic trash we leave behind. We all are an addict in using plastic bags with fervor because they add convenience to our life. Have you ever had an epiphany that the wrapper of all the chocolates you eat, will outlive you, your children, grand children, grand grand children long after you’ve gone? Think of the plastic bags you’ve ever used; where are they now? Are they buried in landfill along with thousands of other plastics waste, incinerated and it’s toxic fumes long gone into the atmosphere or worse has it caused any harm or killed any living organism?
Plastics we use don’t just vanish from the earth like paper when we dispose of it. It takes 1000 agonizing years for plastic to get decomposed. The plastic waste gets accumulated on the earth and ends up in a landfill. This landfill gets large day by day as more and more waste is dumped there. When it rains, the rainwater flows through the plastic waste and absorbs water-soluble toxic, called BPA (Bisphenol A) which is carcinogenic for humans. This can move into the soil or groundwater poisoning ecosystem and harming wildlife.
Plastic that we discard in the water stream like toilets, drainage goes to the river then finally ends up in the sea. There it breaks down into tiny pieces that are consumed by micro-organisms like planktons. Planktons, in turn, are eaten by small fish, small fish are eaten by big fish and we eat big fish. The toxins of plastic, at last, end up in our plate and we eat it gracefully.
One day when I was browsing about our planet Earth on Google, I came across the pictures of the dead deer, cow due to plastic ingestion. We know it’s our only planet and we’re still killing it. This was the catalyst for me to stop using plastic and begin managing plastic waste and segregation at the source, our Home.
Plastics that are dumped into sea, after months of lost journey, reach a whirlpool of trash flowing on seawater called “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch“. This is a place where the ocean’s currents have trapped millions of pieces of plastic debris.
There are a total of 5 plastic-filled gyres in our oceans. The other four are North Atlantic gyre, south Atlantic gyre, Indian Ocean gyre and South Pacific gyre. The sea animals get entangled in the gyre and other mistakes the brightly colored tiny plastic pieces for food which rotate in water eternally. Sea animals mistake plastic pieces for food and eat them. Plastic makes them feel full when they’re not and they starve to death. On
Let’s spare innocent animals and Earth of this purgatory and stop using plastics or at least manage plastic waste. Though plastics bags are banned in most of the country, one way or other we’re bound to use it. Take a pledge and please stop using it. Rather buy a jute or cotton bag and use it. These bags are biodegradable and at the same time stylish and elegant. You can buy it from any store or online. I’ve been using jute bags for long and it’s the best practice to stop using plastics bags. You can also buy it from Amazon or buy Cotton Bags which are 100% biodegradable.
Don’t ask for polyethelyne at every market or shop you go. Carry your own bags. Feel proud to say No to plastic bags when someone offers it to you. I feel proud because I’ve stopped using plastics for a long time now. I carry my own bag wherever I go.
And when it comes to discard it, segregate the plastic waste from other wastes. The best place to start segregating is our home. Keep all the plastic waste at one place and rather than giving it to the kacharawala (trash collector), who will eventually dispose of it in a landfill, instead give them to kabadiwala (scrap dealer). This way a truck will collect the plastic waste and brings it to a recycling plant. There plastics will be squeezed flat and compressed into a block. These blocks are then shredded into tiny pieces that are washed and melted so they become the raw materials that can be used again. And the plastic we threw, is now ready to be reborn as something new into chairs, tables or anything you can think of. For this small bit of contribution in segregating plastic from other waste, suddenly you’ve contributed in keeping our Earth and all her living beings safe. Feel proud.
To conclude, don’t try to get rid of plastics from your home or office but try to get rid of plastic itself.