The use of plastic has now become very controversial because of the major environmental impact it is having. The problem with plastic is that it isn’t biodegradable and is being overused in an unsustainable manner. We use plastic for A LOT of things: packaging, transporting, manufacturing, etc, but do we ever stop to think about what happens to the plastic after we’re done using it, or where it ends up? The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ philosophy is very prevalent when it comes to a lot of environmental issues, especially the issue with plastic.
Plastic is made from petroleum, which the earth cannot digest. Instead of plastic biodegrading, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, which causes more harm than just staying in one piece. For example, if the plastic ends up in the ocean, the plastic pieces will get smaller, and filter feeders will start to digest those pieces. Since filter feeders are on the bottom of the food chain, every organism (birds, fish, marine mammals, etc.) that feeds on the filter feeders are also ingesting plastic. Plastic that ends up in the ocean, kills around one million marine organisms each year.
Can you imagine a large area in the middle of the ocean that is filled with plastic trash, a place where marine life is vanishing because of the trash, and a place that is potentially twice the size of Texas? Unfortunately, the sad truth is that this place already exists in the form of ocean gyres. Plastic has already caused some major environmental problems; the most notable being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a convergence of ocean currents that traps plastic waste in the middle. It’s like a large trash can in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that contains plastic, fishing nets, etc. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch affects marine life directly because they can get tangled in the trash, ingest the plastic, etc. It also affects us because we eat fish and the fishing industry depends on the revenue from fish.
The way to help reduce the impact plastic has on the environment is start reducing the use of plastics. This can be done by buying reusable bags, water bottles, and also by recycling.
This is how the circle works and eventually everyone will need to start reducing the use of plastic:
Plastic (toxic chemicals) -> Ocean -> Marine life (fish, birds, etc.) -> Us (fishing industry and consumers) -> Plastic (toxic chemicals)