Every year, around the world, production of plastics exceeds 300 million tonnes. Much of it ends up in landfill as it is non-recyclable. The reason why plastic has been produced for such a long time is because it’s cheap, strong and extremely versatile.
However, in recent years, people have started cutting down on plastic consumption; as we have realised the effects on the environment and oceans.
Plastics are synthetic polymers and can take up to a thousand years to decompose. Many of our plastic waste ends up washed up on our beaches- That’s if our precious marine organisms haven’t already digested it.
70% of all the litter in the oceans is plastic. Mistaken for food, a lot of creatures such as fish are eating our plastics, from bottle tops to tyres; which means that there is a good chance that people are consuming micro-plastics too.
Many of our wildlife and sea life get entangled in our plastic waste resulting in injury and even death. A recent news article in the UK highlighted the dangers of discarded plastics as a deer was found dead with a plastic bag stuck on its head (The deer, due to lack of vision, strayed into the road and made contact with a vehicle-resulting in death).
Documentaries have helped to shed light on this disaster, such as David Attenborough and the Blue Planet II team. As a result of this, more and more companies are banning single use plastics for example; many restaurants are now only using paper straws rather than plastic ones.
Not only have documentaries helped to educate us for years, The Prince of Wales, has actively warned us of the impact plastic is having on the environment. Prince Charles said
“The amount of plastic entering the Ocean every year is, unbelievably, set to get worse rather than better.”
“A solution is achievable and simply has to be done for all our sakes – and, above all, for the long-term viability of all those species in the sea which are already suffering unbearably because of our actions.”
The Supermarkets are also doing their bit to help
In 2015, there was an introduction of a 5p charge of plastic bags in supermarkets and shops. This encouraged us to purchase “A bag for life”. This is rather than to keep paying 5p per bag every time we wanted to do our weekly shopping.
Recently, there has been a political debate between MPs on whether supermarkets should ban all use of plastic packaging for fruit and vegetable items.
So what can we do to help?
Whether you are volunteering to clear litter at your local beach, pick up litter in the streets or reduce the amount of plastic you consume. It will all help contribute to making the environment a better and healthier place for all and future generations to come.