Pollution is a global threat. Air and water, which are the gifts of nature, will soon become precious resources on the planet in the absence of proper measures to curb pollution. A number of organizations are taking steps to increase awareness about the harm caused to the environment. However, only a handful take initiative to save the Earth and curb pollution. Thanks to our on-the-go lifestyle, disposable products have become an essential part of our lives. These disposable products, which are made of plastic, are one of the major contributors to pollution. Considering the impact of plastic pollution, the theme of this year’s World Environment Day held on 5th June every year, which will be hosted by India, is #BeatPlasticPollution. Taking the discussion forward, we list the causes, effects and the ways to combat plastic pollution.
Causes of Plastic Pollution
The following reasons listed below are one of the main reasons for plastic pollution. Unfortunately, almost everyone has in some way or the other contributed to plastic pollution as all the products we use has plastic in some form or the other.
Overuse of Plastic
Plastics are inexpensive, which is the reason why plastics are overused. However, most of us give a little though to the fact that when you dispose of plastic, it doesn’t decompose. This leads to soil and water pollution which also affects the marine life.
Disposed of as Trash
Though plastic can be reused, most of the bottles and polythene bags are disposed of as trash after a single use. This increases pollution to a great extent on land as well as oceans. The problem is even more serious in developing and underdeveloped countries.
This is another reason for growing plastic pollution. The disposable products that we use take years to decompose. The strong chemical bonds increase the life of plastics making it difficult to decompose. Simple plastic products take approximately 45-100 years to decompose whereas complex products need 100-600 years to decompose. The harm caused by plastic products is evident.
Effects of Plastic Pollution
The number of plastics that we use on a daily basis can cause serious harm to the environment. Here are some of the effects of plastic pollution.
Affects the Food Chain
Plastics can affect the tiniest organisms such as plankton present on the earth’s surface. Larger animals depend on plankton for food. If the small organisms present on the earth’s surface are poisoned, the animals will also consume toxins. This will affect the food chain and lead to health issues.
Affects Marine Life
Plastic pollution has a serious impact on marine life. Plastic fishing nets, dumping of plastic waste in the water bodies, not only pollute the water but also kill marine life. The toxins released by plastic in the sea lead to the loss of biodiversity.
Dumping of plastic waste in the water bodies is one of the leading causes of land degradation. Plastic waste also leads to soil pollution. The toxic substances release plastic waste which affects the growth of plants and trees.
Ways to Prevent Plastic Pollution
The alarming situation makes it necessary to take appropriate measures to reduce the usage of plastic products and avoid pollution. The following suggestion may help to some extent to control pollution.
Replace plastic bags with jute or paper bags. Biodegradable bags are also available which can help in reducing pollution.
Avoid using disposable water bottles. Install a water purifier and use reusable bottles
Avoid improper dumping plastic waste in the water.
Avoid using unwanted plastic products in homes or offices
Instead of plastics, use reusable materials in restaurants and hotels
Following the steps mentioned above can help in reducing plastic pollution to some extent. This World Environment Day, let’s pledge to reduce the usage of plastic and make the world a better place to live.