In 2015, scientists made a discovery in Hawaii and found a rock formation consisting of beach sediments, basaltic lava fragments, organic debris and melted plastic. This is an apt representation of the world we are currently living in, where plastic has melded with organic material to leave an indelible, non-biodegradable record of our consumer habits.
The scientists have dubbed the material as plastiglomerate and suggests that the compound could define our legacy on Earth.
A world without plastic seems unfathomable now, even though mass production only started as recently as 1950. But with an annual growth rate of 8.6%. Production rose from a mere 1.5 million tons in 1950 to 335 million ton in 2016.
A scientific study earmarks the shift from reusable to single use goods as the reason behind the now widespread plastic pollution flagging that almost all of the commonly used plastics are non-biodegradable.
Which suggests that the only practical means of managing plastic is through recycling or incineration. If not properly managed, plastic ends up in our landfills or even worse, in our oceans. Studies show that only about 9% of plastic is recycled and only 12% gets incinerated. Which leaves a significantly huge amount of plastic in our environment.
Earthday has been in the forefront of environmental activism since 1970, and they have recently turned their attention towards plastic. They’re working to create:
•A grassroots movement for the adoption of a global framework regulating plastic pollution.
•Mobilizing global populations to control and clear plastic pollution;
•Educating individuals around plastic consumption with the aim of encouraging rejection, reuse, and recycling;
•Promoting increased regulation at a local level.
With this big problem looming over our whole existence, there are a few steps we can take to tackle the adverse effects of plastic, one step at a time.
•Go for Plastic Alternatives:
There are many biodegradable alternatives to plastic, which can be used to literally save the world from choking on plastic. Some of the best alternatives are paper, areca leaves, sugarcane waste etc.
•Say no to straws:
generally plastic straws are made from polypropylene. Although the material itself does not pose any distinct health hazards to its users, studies show that only 3% of polypropylene is recycled in the US and straws are deadly to marine life.
•Buy clothes that you need and do not over shop:
Polyester now dominates the fashion industry. With the usage of it outweighing that of cotton and wool. Over production and over consumption of this has led to high volumes of clothing disposal which is causing pollution.
•More cooking, less packaged food:
Reduce the consumption of takeaways, unnecessary packing and using disposable cutlery. These single use items are our oceans biggest curse.
•Avoid single use carry bags:
Keep cloth bags in your car, where it is visible to you, it may be hard for a month, but once you get used to it, you are one step ahead to saving our planet.