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Global Problems and Their Solutions: Urgency Around Plastic Pollution

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Words: 1515 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2023

Words: 1515|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2023

Table of contents

  1. The Current State of This Global Problem
  2. What Can Each of Us Can Do for the Environment?
  3. Conclusion
  4. References

Plastic pollution is a global problem that could be leading to the early demise of our precious planet. There is currently so much plastic waste in the ocean that we are literally drowning in it. Over the years, we have become extremely dependent on plastic. It is used for packaging many things like food, toiletries (literally everything). It is used for water bottles – single use and some reusable. It is even used in clothes in the form of microfibres. But one of the most problematic uses of plastic is straws, which has a detrimental effect on marine life. Plastic is mutilating and slaughtering our ocean’s mammals and fish. And it is destroying the earth on which all life thrives, and if we are not careful our days on this planet may be numbered. But is there actually anything we can do to stop this from happening? In this 'Global Problems and Their Solutions' essay, we will delve into pressing issue of plastic pollution that affects the world and propose viable solutions to address this challenge.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

The Current State of This Global Problem

The waste from plastic is polluting all areas of the world. It is whipped up by the wind and carried to other places. It also often makes its way to the oceans, which is the most polluted area. Every day approximately 8 million items of plastic reach our oceans. It is estimated that there are approximately 5.25 trillion macroplastic and microplastic items swimming around in the sea, which weighs around 269,000 tonnes. Plastics are about 60-90% of all marine debris investigated. Around 5000 pieces of plastic waste have been discovered per mile of UK beaches and over 150 items of that waste were plastic bottles. That is a staggering amount of waste polluting our once clean, pure, beautiful earth. Items like bottles, disposable nappies and beer holders take about 450 years to biodegrade. Plastic straws take about 200 years and fishing lines take 600 years! The average British person is only expected to live for 80 years – meaning the plastic we use stays around for a very long time after we die. The plastic you use now not only affects our generation but will also affect future generations. It is estimated that by 2050, the weight of plastic swimming in the ocean will be equal to the weight of fish swimming in the ocean. Why should these poor creatures have to suffer the consequences of our terrible actions? This is a crime to humanity. We are the poison that is killing the earth and all its beautiful life. Animals survive without using these artificial deathtraps known as plastic packaging. So why can’t we? But you may be wondering “How much can some floating plastic bags or bottles affect sea creatures?” And before I even get started on that, you must consider how annoying and frightening it must be for marine life to have their homes cluttered with mess that isn’t even theirs. But the truth of it all is that every time you simply use plastic, you are adding to a huge problem that is already destroying our environment.

But as already mentioned, it is not only our environment that is suffering, the wildlife (including all animals, birds and marine life) that inhabit our earth is also suffering. New research has shown that marine plastic pollution was found in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species investigated. It has been shown that 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million seabirds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually. A problem is that many marine creatures confuse it for food and can choke when trying to eat it. They can also swim into things like beer holders and become entrapped in them, causing major upset and distress. Imagine having to deal with this. What a horrible way to die. Furthermore, as I had previously said, plastic straws are a major concern when it comes to plastic pollution. Plastic straws make up 90% of all plastic pollution in the ocean. These straws become ingested by many species of sea creature and can cause problems like intestinal injury and even death among others. However, the plastic ingested by fish not only affects them but also, in a roundabout way, it affects you too. Toxic chemicals like BPA (Bisphenol A) can be released from the plastic that is not digested by the fish, meaning that when you eat the fish you are exposing yourself to these harmful chemicals. These chemicals are also found in single-use plastic bottles, which is why it would be a good idea for you to switch to a BPA free bottle or even better, a glass or metal bottle. You would not only reduce the amount of plastic waste but would also save money and protect yourself from these harmful toxins.

What Can Each of Us Can Do for the Environment?

So I am hoping that by now I have a least convinced you to want to recycle the plastic you use, but what if I told you that quite often the plastic you discard with the intention that it be recycled is actually left to find its way to – you guessed it – our oceans! Almost 250,000 tonnes of recycling collection was deposited in landfills or incinerated. In some cases, lorries filled with recycling are rejected because contamination deems it as household waste or because the packaging is made confusing for the consumer, with cardboard being lined with plastic, preventing it from being recycled. Tom Szaky, the CEO of TerraCycle (a recycling business) said “Typically, 50% of what you put in your recycling bin is never recycled. It’s sorted and thrown out” Which causes you to ask a question: why do we bother with this recycling nonsense if our plastic isn’t actually getting recycled? The cost of recycling is expensive and has increased due to a ban from China, preventing us from importing our rubbish there, meaning that recycling costs for councils have gone up by £500,000 in some places. Recycling is something that is costing the tax-payer a lot of money, however, the service is unreliable. It makes you doubt why you would even bother trying to help the planet if your efforts are in vain. But fear not my fellow eco-warriors! There are other measures that can be taken by you as an individual, us as a community of people and also some more extreme action that must be taken by governments and officials. Now is time to answer the question: what can we actually do to save our planet and its multitude of inhabitants from the devastating effects of plastic pollution?

There are actually many little things that you can do for the environment. Never underestimate the profound impact from small actions of the people. Everything we can do is a small jigsaw piece which will eventually display the image of a world free from plastic waste. It’s going to take a long time and we won’t even have achieved success by the time we are dead, but at least we can leave behind a world that is starting to realise the errors of its ways. The UN suggest a small number of ways that we can help including: refusing plastic cutlery and straws when eating at places like McDonald’s, using your own shopping bags when at the supermarket (most supermarkets offer reusable bags made from canvas), using a refillable water bottle (many places, including ‘Buchanan Galleries’ are obligated to refill water bottles for free) and other actions that are slightly more severe, like calling for bans on single-use plastic bags and pressuring companies to stop using plastic packaging. I personally think that governments should take more action to ban plastic, but I understand that that would be an ideal situation but is merely a dream. Although, be aware that simply switching to a reusable bottle is better for your health (no BPA), your pocket (saves money) and this precious planet.

Conclusion

To conclude, I hope that I have made you think more about your impact and the impact plastic has on the earth. And that what you can take away from this is that change can come from little acts of preservation. Help protect the planet – switch to a reusable water bottle today! (and stop using single-use plastic-anything!)   

References

  1. Geyer, R., Jambeck, J. R., & Law, K. L. (2017). Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances, 3(7), e1700782.

  2. Andrady, A. L. (2015). Microplastics in the marine environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 97(1-2), 122-123.

  3. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (2018). Single-Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability. Retrieved from https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/report/single-use-plastics-roadmap-sustainability

  4. Moore, C. J. (2008). Synthetic polymers in the marine environment: A rapidly increasing, long-term threat. Environmental Research, 108(2), 131-139.

  5. Hoornweg, D., & Bhada-Tata, P. (2012). What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management. The World Bank.

  6. Royte, E. (2018). Can We Ever Get Rid of the World's Toughest Trash? National Geographic. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/article/plastic-planet-waste-pollution-trash-crisis

  7. National Geographic. (2021). Planet or Plastic? Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/plastic-pollution/

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  8. Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2017). The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics. Retrieved from https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/EllenMacArthurFoundation_TheNewPlasticsEconomy_15-3-17.pdf

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Global Problems and Their Solutions: Urgency Around Plastic Pollution. (2023, August 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/global-problems-and-their-solutions-urgency-around-plastic-pollution/
“Global Problems and Their Solutions: Urgency Around Plastic Pollution.” GradesFixer, 14 Aug. 2023, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/global-problems-and-their-solutions-urgency-around-plastic-pollution/
Global Problems and Their Solutions: Urgency Around Plastic Pollution. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/global-problems-and-their-solutions-urgency-around-plastic-pollution/> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Global Problems and Their Solutions: Urgency Around Plastic Pollution [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 14 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/global-problems-and-their-solutions-urgency-around-plastic-pollution/
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