How Is Plastic Affecting Our Environment?
The Scary Truth
The other day I heard an eye-opening story about a whale being found dead on a beach in the Philippines. This whale died from ingesting almost 40 kilograms of plastic. Plastic cannot be digested by animals or humans and this is only one of the many examples of animals dying from the plastic in our oceans.This story led me to do some research on this topic and the statistics aren't looking good.
- More than 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year.
- Approximately 1 million marine creatures die every year because of entanglements and these are just the ones that are found.
- We produce over 300 million tonnes of plastic every year and 50% of that plastic is used once and then thrown away.
- 500 billion plastic bags used worldwide per year, that is almost 1 million plastic bags used per minute!
The Danger of Plastic
Plastic cannot be digested by animals or humans and the whale found in the Philippines is only one of the many cases of an animal dying from the plastic found in our oceans. More than 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year! Birds are one of the most affected by plastic, when looking for food they pick up tiny pieces of plastic called micro-plastics. These micro-plastics cause 1 million seabirds to die per year and it affects lots of other animals too.
After ingesting micro-plastics, animals may suffer for months or even years before dying.
Marine creatures don’t only die from ingesting plastic but also from getting tangled in plastic. Approximately 1 million marine creatures die every year because of entanglements and these are just the ones that are found!
The main problem and danger with plastic is that it can take thousands of years to decay. If you were to drop food on the ground it would fully decay in less than a month but if you drop a plastic bag on the ground it won't decay for hundreds if not thousands of years and will probably be eaten by an animal or washed away into rivers and seas before it ever does decay.
What About Recycling?
100 years ago hardly any people used plastic and now we cannot live without it. We produce over 300 million tonnes of plastic every year and 50% of that plastic is used once and then thrown away. That is over 150 million tonnes of plastic just thrown away every year. How much of this is actually recycled? I’d say we all have a recycle bin but do we use them properly? Statistics show we don't.
A whopping 90% of plastic waste is not recycled!
If we continue this way, scientists predict that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. Some countries have taken steps to reduce the amount of plastic waste. Ireland brought in a plastic bag tax which reduced the use of plastic bags in Ireland by almost 90%. But there are still 500 billion plastic bags used worldwide per year, that is almost 1 million plastic bags used per minute! Plastic factories have high carbon emissions which is polluting our air and contributing to global warming as well.
Do you recycle all of your plastic waste?
Plastic has a huge impact on our lives and on our environment. Plastic accounts for millions of animal deaths worldwide and contributing to global warming. People are not cutting down on plastic which is going to cause more and more problems in the future. But that can be stopped, governments could bring in more plastic taxes, we could all make small changes in our everyday lives to reduce plastic waste. For example, buying a reusable bag instead of using a plastic bag once and then throwing it away. Animals don't deserve to die from our actions. Global warming is already having a huge affect on our lives. We need to make a change!
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