Plastics are used because they are simple to manufacture, cheap and durable. Unfortunately, these same useful qualities make plastic an overwhelming pollution problem. Poor quality and low cost mean that plastics are easy to discard. It takes about 300 years for plastics to degrade light. The long service life of plastic ensures that it survives in the environment for a long time and may cause a lot of damage. Because plastics are not easily decomposed and require high-energy ultraviolet light to decompose, the amount of plastic waste in the world’s oceans is steadily increasing. Today, plastics can be found in almost every ocean and river in the world, even in the most distant and once pristine oceans.
According to statistics, there are about 50 billion plastic bags of waste every year in the world. This is an unreasonable waste, using more than one million bags per minute, and their impact on the planet is devastating. Plastic bags are only part of the problem. In the United States alone, more than 800,000 tons of plastic bottles are produced each year. Our precious planets worldwide have more than 100 million tons of plastic pollution and poisoning every year.
According to the California Coastal Council, more than 80% of the rubbish in the waterways, mostly plastic waste, comes from land, not from ships.
Turtles are particularly damaged by plastic pollution. For various reasons, all seven sea turtles in the world are on the verge of extinction or threats. Turtles are entangled in plastic fishing nets, and many turtles are found in plastic garbage bags that die in their stomachs. Studies have shown that turtles mistake these floating translucent bags for jellyfish and eat them. Turtles die of inhuman deaths due to suffocation or inability to eat. A dead turtle found on the coast of Hawaii found more than 1,000 pieces of plastic in its stomach, including a part of the comb, toy card wheels and nylon cords.
There are significant environmental concerns about the impact of plastic waste on all marine mammals. These elegant creatures have been threatened for a variety of other reasons: for example, seal and whale populations have been destroyed by unregulated hunting. A recent study concluded that more than 100,000 marine mammals die unnecessarily from the deadly effects of plastic pollution each year.
It is known that more than 100 species of birds in the world ingest plastic granules. This includes 36 species found on the South African coast. A recent study on the hatching of blue sea Swallows on the remote island of Marion in South Africa showed that 90% of chicks have plastic in the digestive system, apparently being accidentally fed by their parents. South African seabirds are among the most affected seabirds in the world. The plastic stays in the bird's stomach, hinders digestion and causes hunger.
Scientific research on the consumption of plastic birds and fish is inconclusive, but scientists believe that plastics in seafood may be harmful to humans. Compare plastics to better understood toxic materials such as mercury.
The ingredients in plastic are related to cancer and reproductive abnormalities. Bisphenol A found in plastic water bottles has been shown to cause cancer in experimental rats, destroy hormone levels and be associated with diabetes and obesity.
When exposed to toxic substances such as PCBs, plastics (such as sponges) will concentrate them to levels hundreds of times higher than in seawater.
With the increase of environmental awareness, we can do more things to create a sustainable society. If each of us takes some small steps, makes different choices, and consciously considers our impact on the planet, there may be a way to restore the world to its original beauty and resources.
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