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PLASTIC: THE MURDERER OF EARTH
On average, the world produces 300 million tons of plastic waste every year. This is an overwhelming amount of unnecessary waste that is going into our oceans, poisoning the earth, and harming animals. Items made from plastic can take hundreds of years to degrade - if they even do so. This means that the plastic we use builds up in landfills and covers the earth when we litter.
It is estimated that over 100,000 marine animals and over 1 million sea birds die each year from plastic related deaths. These numbers only scratch the surface of marine animals dying and does not cover the impact that plastic has on land animals. Animals ingest these plastic items as they do not know it is not suitable as food, and many of them tangled in it and are strangled to death.
Plastic can contain harmful chemicals that seep into the earth and pollute the soil and water sources for both humans and animals. If burned, it can also release toxins into the air which, over time, can harm the body and create medical issues.
Some people have begun the fight against having plastic shopping bags in grocery and other stores. And while this is a just cause to fight for, I can't help but wonder if we think about all the other types of plastics that are in our markets. And how many of these items do we not think about or notice?
Toothpaste tubes, water bottles, notebooks, dishes, decorative pieces, fake Christmas trees, ornaments, whole fruits and veggies, plastic stickers on produce, chip bags that are far to large for the amount of food, bags for a single doughnut, individually wrapped chocolates - the list can go on and on. It seems that everywhere you look in a store, there is item after item that is plastic made or wrapped.
Being as plastic free as possible can certainly be a challenge in today's world. But if the world has been plastic free for centuries, can it not be done once again? It may be an "inconvenience" in the beginning. But, over time, it will get easier to find plastic substitutes.
Thankfully, there are alternatives to using plastic that we should all consider and start using. Paper bags are just as usable as plastic. They are sturdy and most importantly, biodegradable. Glass jars or containers are re-usable and washable therefore making them great storage containers. Cardboard boxes are great for storage as well. And if they wear down over time, they are biodegradable and not harmful to the environment. Other items that can be used in place of their plastic counterparts are wooden dishes, cloth shopping bags, clothing made with natural fibers, wicker baskets, stainless steel containers, wool carpets, and real wood floors. A quick Google search can provide many more ideas to replace the plastic items in your life.
We may never be able to eradicate all the plastic that we as humankind have already created. But, as a new generation, we can choose to not continue on the legacy of harming our earth with these unneeded substances.
This is not only caring about the environment in the here and now, but also looking out for our future generations. Will they live in a land that is dying because of our irresponsibility?
We must take a stand against the harming of earth and all her creatures. In this battle against plastic waste, one seemingly small step for each person becomes giant progress for the nations of the world.
David Azoulay (CIEL), Priscilla Villa (Earthworks), Yvette Arellano (TEJAS), Miriam Gordon (UPSTREAM), Doun Moon (GAIA), and Kathryn Miller and Kristen Thompson (Exeter University). (2019). Plastic & Health-The Hidden Costs Of A Plastic Planet. Center for International Environmental Law. Retrieved from https://www.ciel.org/research-publications/
Cristina Castillo. (2018). Marine Plastics. Smithsonian Ocean. Retrieved from https://ocean.si.edu/conservation/pollution/marine-plastics
Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser. (2018). Plastic Pollution. Our World in Data. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution
Hannah Ritchie. (2018). FAQs on Plastics. Our World in Data. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/faq-on-plastics
Information About Sea Turtles: Threats from Marine Debris. (n.d.). Sea Turtle Conservancy. Retrieved from https://conserveturtles.org/information-sea-turtles-threats-marine-debris/
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