July 3 is celebrated as International Plastic Bag Free Day. It is a global initiative that aims to eliminate our usage of plastic bags.
We know that they make grocery shopping convenient, but they are a huge burden on our environment.
A single plastic bottle takes nearly 450 years to decompose They take up to 500 years to decompose Moreover, they pollute our water resources, destroy the delicate ecological balance of man and animal, and research shows that there is a high chance that we are ingesting some of this plastic waste. It is time to put an end to this. So, what are some of the ways which can help us reduce our dependency on plastic?
The world uses 100 million tons of plastic each year.
It is a widely known fact that it takes 100-500 years for a plastic bag to decompose fully.
Also, plastic bottles and bags reach our oceans and harm our marine life. Seabirds, turtles, and seals eat the plastic present in the oceans.
International Plastic Bag Free Day is a global campaign to raise awareness about the negative impact of disposable plastic on our environment. Plastic pollution is a pressing issue and holds great dangers to the environment.
The intention is to look for a safer and sustainable alternative to plastic bags and find a way to decrease the stress on our landfills.
International Plastic Bag Free Day encourages and celebrates the efforts and initiatives of people who are opting out of using plastic and are using eco-friendly alternatives.
The initiative is a part of Bag Free World, whose sole purpose is to make sure that we as a community get rid of plastic bags around the world.
But the history was different.
In 1933, polyethylene, the most used plastic, was created by accident in Northwich, England. By 1965, the one-piece polyethylene bag had become a shopping essential and had replaced the old cloth bags.
In 1997, sailor and researcher Charles Moore discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Garbage Patch is one of the largest patches where an immense amount of plastic has accumulated and poses a dire threat to marine life. It was around this time that the world discovered that plastic bags were responsible for killing sea turtles.
In 2002, Bangladesh became the first country to ban thin plastic when they found out plastic had clogged their drainage systems during floods.
Let us see how plastic affects various aspects of the planet:
Soil: Microplastics in the soil, sediments, and freshwater have long-term effects on the ecosystem. Between 80% to 90% of plastic particles in the sewage reach our food chain as the sewage is often applied to fields as fertilizers.
The tiny fragments of plastic carry disease-causing germs. Chlorinated plastic releases harmful chemicals and seeps into groundwater.
Marine Life: Nearly 13 million metric tons of garbage end up in the oceans each year. Seabirds, turtles, fish, and marine animals get entangled or ingest plastic debris.
Studies show turtles and seabirds end up consuming plastic from the oceans and feel that their stomach is full, sometimes, causing starvation. Plastic waste also encourages the growth of pathogens in the oceans. Scientists in a recent study concluded that corals coming in contact with plastic have an 89 % chance of contracting diseases.
Air: Burning plastic is even more harmful than waiting for it to get decomposed completely. Burning of plastic creates fumes and increases the risk of heart diseases and aggravates respiratory ailments such as asthma.
Burning plastic also releases soot (black carbon) that contributes to climate change and air pollution.
Here are a few most shocking facts about how plastic pollution affects us and our environment:
73% of waste retrieved from beaches is plastic, the majority of which, includes plastic food wrappers, bottles, caps, etc.
Plastic production: The world’s production of plastic has increased from 2.1 million tonnes to 406 million. This change has taken from 1950 to 2015.
By 2015, only 9% of plastic waste generated was recycled. 79% of that got accumulated in landfills.
Marine Life: Nearly 700 species have either eaten or gotten caught up in plastic.
In the Northern Pacific, plastic bags are 6 times more than plankton.
Reducing plastic consumption requires more than just a day of celebration, it calls for a lifestyle change. We have listed a few ways, our personal workarounds actually, that may come in handy as you try to adopt a more planet-first attitude:
Learn about plastic pollution: The first thing you can do for celebrating this day is to learn how plastic is harming various parts of our environment. Read as much as you can about the harmful effects.
Start a conversation: Once you have understood the repercussions of plastic on our environment, talk about this to your colleagues, friends, and family members. Let them know what you read. Discuss your ideas, and suggestions and try to incorporate as much as you can into your daily life.
Make one permanent change: Make a resolution of cutting down one habit of plastic consumption and stick with it. Lead your near and dear ones with your example and conviction.
Say no to plastic bags: The easiest way to celebrate the day is to reject plastic bags or not ask for one. If you do grocery shopping or are going to a restaurant, do not ask for a plastic bag.
Carry your bags: Always carry your bag when going shopping. This will give you an easy way to carry your things back and you will not be dependent on plastic bags.
Recycle plastic: In your home or office, try to reuse as many plastic things as you have, whether bags or bottles. It is a simple way to recycle and upscale the things around you.
Plant a tree: Planting a tree is always a great option and does not have to be for a special day. But since it is a special day, plant a tree and let mother nature grow around you.
Very tiny bits of plastic called microplastics also harm humans by entering our bodies. This happens via the food chain and plastic enters our body through what we eat, drink, and/or breathe. Plastics in the environment attract tiny micro-organisms and carry diseases.
Only our actions will address the urgent problem and lower the weight of ocean plastics from our environment.
Various centers, malls, and organizations have come together to pledge to stop using plastic.
Let us know in the comments section below what steps would you like to take for reducing plastic consumption.
That’s all I have for now,
I will write to you soon.