Akka Kappa Cares "Plastic Facts"12 March , 2019 177
Plastic has become an indispensable part of everyday life, ranging from household products to food packaging. It is cheap and can be used in all forms of production. Within the last five decades, about 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced. Out of this number, about 9% has been recycled. The important question is: where does all the plastic go? The remaining 91%, makes its way into the ocean, beaches, landfills and in our immediate surroundings.
On the average we use about 300 million tons of plastic a year and a large percentage of these products are mostly disposable, used just once then discarded. Incineration as a method of disposal has been ineffective since it creates more problems for the environment by the release of harmful gases into the atmosphere.
The reality of plastic is that it hardly corrodes or degrades. This unique feature which leads to its wide usage is what makes it a big problem. Roughly, it takes a minimum of about 500 years for plastic to start degrading. This means all plastic produced within the last decades are still in perfect condition. When it finally starts to break down it does not get absorbed by nature, it turns into little toxic bits harmful to the environment.
Its effects on human and animal life as well as the environment far outnumber its benefits. It is unsustainable and a major risk to all forms of life. Plastic is made up of harmful chemicals such as phthalates and bisphenol A, that leaches into food and drinks and is suspected to disrupt hormones, cause fertility problems and cardiovascular diseases.
About 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year making about 90% of the trash floating in our oceans. There are around 46,000 pieces per square mile! The Great Pacific Garbage Patch located in the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California, is the largest ocean garbage site in the world. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one.
Plastic is responsible for the death of millions of marine each year and is the number one cause of extinction of marine species. One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans. 44% of all seabird species, 22% of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.
Plastic is an incredible material that has allowed us to do things no other material has. It has made modern life as we know it today possible. But plastic has been used thoughtlessly, sparing little thought to the environment, animal life and future generations. We need to reconsider how we use plastic and think about its devastating effect on the environment.
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