It’s a numbers game. When two opposing armies meet on the battlefield, the army with the most soldiers has a distinct advantage over the other.
The greater the number of the enemy, the more strength is required to overcome it. But in the battle against plastics, humanity is in a very disadvantageous position. And the numbers say it all.
Well, experts point out our plastic pollution nightmare could be another price we pay for our rapid advancement. And unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere in the Himalayas as a Tibetan monk, you’d agree. Our plastic pollution problem is getting out of hand. A little math should be telling.
Learn about: Ocean Sustainability
Every year over eight million tonnes (metric tons) of plastic are dumped into the ocean. At that rate, experts estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fishes inhabiting the sea. It is also feared that almost every bird on the planet will have ingested plastic into its system. Now, if that is not staggering enough, think about this: Earth’s oceans contain an estimated 5 trillion particles of microplastic. That number is equivalent to all the stars in our galaxy multiplied by 500.
The United Nations has already declared war against plastics in our oceans. And you should too. Here’s a brief on how you can enlist yourself in the war against our very own creation, multiplying astronomically because of our very own habits.
War on Plastics: A Humongous Problem We Created
Plastics were created to answer a need. Over time, man’s synthetic answer to the growing problem of need has become a huge problem in itself. Talk about a monster creation.
In 1869, John Wesley Hyatt discovered a material that he can shape at will by treating cellulose with camphor. He did it in answer to a New York firm’s $10,000 offer for anyone who can come up with a substitute for much-sought-after ivory, a product taken from elephant’s tusks.
As revolutionary as Hyatt’s discovery was, it would be Leo Baekeland in 1907 who would first invent the first fully-synthetic plastic, calling it Bakelite. Meaning, this material has no element from nature whatsoever.
Hyatt’s and Baekeland’s successes would spur major chemical companies to look for more synthetic polymers. Add that to the demands of World War II, where synthetic materials were favored over natural sources, the production of synthetics ballooned. Nylon was discovered in 1935, for instance, to be used in parachutes, body armor, and helmet liners.
Plastic did answer to man’s need. But at what cost.
Evidence showed 9% of seabirds today have plastic in their stomachs. Already, it’s estimated two-thirds of the seabird population have been decimated. Imagine the health risks this poses to humans.
Worse, as plastic doesn’t decompose, we could be eating the plastics we threw away. Fishes and all sorts of marine animals that we serve as food ingest microplastics become part of their system. And in the process, become part of ours.
Being Part of the Solution
The ocean that has become our planet’s garbage dump did not happen overnight. Each human on Earth doing his part can go a long way in solving the problem.
The problem with plastic is bound to take a long, long time to solve. As it’s nonbiodegradable, the synthetic material is bound to last for centuries (from 400 to 1,000 years)in our oceans.
A good way to start is to wean yourself off whatever disposable plastic you’ve been using before. You can do this by using alternative methods.
For instance, when shopping for your daily needs, you can use reusable grocery bags. They’re not only strong enough to carry your groceries home, but you can also use them for a long time. Plus, you save a lot in the long run as you won’t have to be charged for plastic bags every time you do your shopping.
Best of all, you’re helping the planet.
Another habit you should be doing away with is the use of bottled water. Over 8 million tons of plastic bottled water are thrown into the ocean every year. Invest in a good water filter and use reusable bottles instead.
As for straws, use an alternative method: glass or stainless steel. When you go to a coffee shop, bringing along a reusable coffee cup is one less plastic cup to pollute the planet.
Even better, you can be part of a global campaign to rid the planet of synthetic plastic.
This is a matter of having a better planet. It’s a must. So long as humanity moves as one in the fight against plastic, we win. A win that will be celebrated not only by us but our children’s children.