Since the invention of plastic it has revolutionised the way society operates. The many uses of plastic has grown to an enormous rate. However, one of the major drawbacks to plastic, which we have realised too late, is the large amount of damage it causes to our environment. For example, plastic is not only being dumped into waterways but most of the Indonesian food chain has been found to be poisoned by Western plastics being exported to the East (Ray et al. 2019). This is concerning as plastic waste is now everywhere we look, one critical hotbed for plastic waste being the Pacific ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean, spanning from Japan to North West America it demonstrates the harm thoughtless consumerism has had on the planet.
This highlights the tipping point that we are currently at with the environment and how our expendable view of the planet can lead to a possibly catastrophic future if we do not begin to repair our mistakes. A recent study as shown that current rate of plastic waste production exceeds the efforts taken to reduce it, meaning that even if reduction goals are met plastic waste will continue to be a burden. Researchers have estimated that by 2030 the plastic waste in the environment may increase six times the current rate. As of this year, the plastic waste produced is currently at 1.5 billion tons.
This is an extreme problem as what is somewhat overlooked is the way plastic waste can be damaging. For example, plastic takes a considerable amount of time to degrade and can break down into what is known as microplastics. These microplastics can find their way into aquatic life through consumption, as we eat many different species of fish ultimately this microplastic will find its way into humans and the consequences of this are yet to be fully discovered. Therefore, plastic waste is somewhat poisoning the environment and the health of aquatic and human life. However, there are ways to reduce the use of plastic as demonstrated in my previous posts.
The study mentioned above and the consequences of plastic waste highlight an urgency in halting the use of plastic and a serious need in finding alternative methods. Like many other damaging practices, such as the output of CO2 emissions, if we do not transition to healthier practices for both the planet and human life then in ten years time we will see the negative consequences of our destructive habits. This is made even more apparent by the climate clocks which are starting to appear in developed nations, with Berlin and very recently New York estimating that we have seven years until we see the damaging consequences of our actions. Thus, the time to change is needed now more than ever as recent news has shown that the climate goals of the Paris agreement in 2015 are not being met.
- Ray, L. Yuniar, R. Kusmiati, S. (2019) ‘Western plastics ‘poisoning Indonesian food chain’ . Accessed online: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-50392807