Wasn’t plastic a huge deal once a upon a time? Like starting from packaging of products in industries to everyday requirement of every middle-class families, we have been pretty dependant on plastic. It was cheaper and made life easy. Well, in easy words plastic has been quite a dominant figure in our lives. For a long time, plastic has been used as a free solution to everything like for carrying weekly supermarket essentials, throwing garbage, storing groceries etc. But are we enough knowledgeable about what are its negative impacts and how it has been affecting the environmental changes that we have been facing? The negative impacts of plastic have been a topic to be talked about and quite popular over the last few years.
Well, plastic has always been a kind of necessity in every common man’s life. It is only a few years back, that the realisation has struck our human minds about it’s damaging effects. So, governments and environmentalists from all around the world started working on how to reduce its usage and Indian government introduced an implementation of a fine charged punishment if caught using so in the year 2015. But why was this done? Why was plastic usage banned from our daily lives? The reasons are pretty simple. Plastic bags are made from crude oil and crude oil emits a huge amount of pollution as it is a non-biodegradable substance. Anyway, extracting oils and gas is a dirty business. We humans are enough selfish, and money minded, destroying the nature for our own profits and own necessity. Drilling gas and oil has a huge negative impact on the environment. The loud noises it makes, the human movement and the vehicle traffic can cause disrupt in many nature’s habitats. The infrastructure built for energy development like powerlines, fences, and roads fragment habitats for wildlife species. The oil spills in waterbodies have a long-term environmental impacts and devastating effects on water animals through direct contact, inhalation, and ingestion of toxic chemicals. According to sources, during oil extraction on land, drilling fluids are injected into the well for lubrication. These oil-based fluids known as “mud” are supposed to be captured in lined pits for disposal, but they’re often spilled and splashed around the drilling site. It becomes a definite cause for water pollution which becomes problematic for local communities. And with water pollution it also impacts the air that they breathe.
Coming back to plastic usage, according to natural environment website it takes at least 400 years for a bag to biodegrade. Now think about the number of plastic bags you have used till date and thrown it in some garbage dump. Imagine the impact it has already caused in the environment. Did you know all the garbage dumps are later thrown in large water bodies like the ocean? The ‘Natural Environment’ estimates that approximately 100,000 sea turtles and other marine animals die every year because they get strangled in bags or mistake them for food. A video by WHO showed how plastic bags float deep inside water bodies, and water species like fishes, turtles and even sharks get strangled in those plastic bags and die out of suffocation. There’s a news almost every day about dead marine animals floating and ending up in a beaches. The Natural Environment website also states that, in Australia, 50 million garbage bags end up as litter yearly, and the “plastic soup” patch in the Pacific Ocean (twice the size of the continental United States) is roughly 80% of the ocean.
If you have seen the satellite views of Earth from a distance, the water bodies look so clean and crystal. The closeup photographs of those waterbodies have revealed froths and plastic bottles or garbage in the middle of the oceans. Let’s comeback to the land from the waterbodies. If one googles photos of popular beaches and hill stations, pictures of beaches filled with garbage, plastic bottles, food cutleries and wrappers all around. Despite environmentalists and NGOs taking active measures to clean beaches and hill stations, visitors often litter the places every year during the holiday months.
It is our belief that paper is a good substitute for plastic and we are most certainly wrong about it. Paper brings its own negative impact in the environment. Paper is a costly alternative of plastic which is made from tree trunks. Now if paper replaces plastic in our society, imagine the amount of deforestation that will occur. Now the question that arises after all these is- to recycle or reuse plastic? According to my research it is best to reduce the use of plastic and if that is not possible the least one can do is to reuse plastic, so that it doesn’t end up in garbage dumps and then causes the latest plastic pollution. In this way plastic won’t be ending up in recycling which can cause a huge amount of air pollution.
Let’s all pledge and join hands in improving this world into a clean and better place to live in, because living in a clean and green environment is our dream.