By: Tannaz Khan
As the population of the world increase the amount of garbage produce also increases. Plastic is composed of major toxic pollutants, it has the potential to cause great harm to the environment in the form of pollution to air, water and land. But simply plastic pollution happens when plastic gets collected in an area and then it begins to negatively impact the natural environment and create problems for plants, wildlife and even human population. Often this includes killing plant life and posing dangers to local animals.
Plastic, that we use for everything and which pollutes our environment, is perhaps the most harmful of trash dumped by mariners and sea-goers in sea because it does not readily break down in nature. In-fact, the plastic that goes over the side today may still be around in hundreds of years to foul up the fishing gear, boat propellers, and beaches of future generations. Careless disposal of plastic can have dire consequences. A plastic bag looks like a tasty jellyfish to an indiscriminate feeder like the sea turtle, but plastic is indigestible. It can choke, block the intestines or cause infection in those animals that consume it.
According to the Centre for Marine Conservation, over 25,000 pieces of fishing line were collected from U.S. beaches during the 1996 annual beach clean-up and at least 40% of all animal entanglements reported during the clean-ups involved fishing line. Now-a-days the most popular plastic pollution is caused is polyvinyl chloride (P.V.C.). When any food material or blood is stored in the plastic containers then gradually the soluble chemical gets dissolved in them causing death due to cancer and other skin diseases. Polyvinyl chloride has also been found to destroy the fertility of the animals and their respiratory systems. When mixed with water, it causes paralysis and also damages bones and causes irritation to the skin.
Recently U.S.A. has banned the use of P.V.C. plastic in space apparatus and in food containers (as chemicals get dissolved in the food). India should immediately ban the use of P.V.C. in water pipes, food and medicine containers to save the lives of millions who are already suffering from different types of ailments.
Plastics are used because these are easy and cheap and they can last for a long time. Unfortunately these very useful qualities make plastic a huge pollution problem. Because cheap plastic gets discarded easily and its persistence in the environment can do great harm. Urbanization has added to the plastic pollution in concentrated form in cities.
Turtles are particularly badly affected by plastic pollution, and all seven of the world’s turtle species are already either endangered or threatened for a number of reasons. Turtles get entangled in fishing nets, and many sea turtles have been found dead with plastic bags in their stomachs. Turtles mistake floating transparent plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them. In one dead turtle found in Hawaii in the Pacific more than 1000 pieces of plastic were found in its stomach. Traces of plastics can be found in the bodies of the most of the marine species ranging from plankton to marine mammals. World-wide, 75 marine bird species are known to eat plastic articles. This includes 36 species found off South Africa. A recent study of blue petrel chicks at South Africa’s remote Marion Island showed that 90% of chicks examined had plastic in their stomachs apparently fed to them accidently by their parents. About 100,000 animals such as cows, dogs and penguins are killed every year due to plastic bags. Many animals ingest plastic bags, mistaking them for food, and therefore die. The greatest worry is, the ingested plastic bag remains intact even after the death and decomposition of the animal. Thus, it lies around in the landscape where another victim may ingest it. And one of the worst environmental effects of plastic bags is that they are non-biodegradable. The decomposition of plastic bags takes about 1000 years.
Recently India was made the host for this year’s World Environment Day’s celebration. Each World Environment Day is organised around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for the World Environment Day 2018 was “Beat Plastic Pollution”.
Some of the famous environmentalists have given their suggestions regarding the protection for the environment – Plastic bags and bottles, like all forms of plastic, create significant environmental and economic burden. They consume growing amount of energy and other natural resources, degrading the environment in a number of ways. In addition to using up fossil fuels and other resources, plastic products create litter, hurt marine life, and threaten the basis of life on earth. Some steps needs to be taken to reverse the tide of toxic, non-biodegradable pollution so that it may not overtake the planet. Plastic produces paper, canvas, and other healthy-fiber bags. Use wax paper bags, cotton napkins, or re-useable sandwich boxes (e.g., tiffins). Use only glass bottles or cans. Tiffins (stainless steel food containers) are a long tradition in India. They store food well, have longer life than Tupper Ware and its look-alikes, are more hygienic, and have certain panache. Recycling schemes should be supported and promotions should be done in local area. Practice and promote paper disposal of plastics at home. Disposal of plastic in the sewage system is harmful for the environment. The future generations should be encouraged for protecting “Mother Earth”.