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How Plastic Pollution Destroys Our Environment and Ways to Overcome It

Plastic Waste (Image Courtesy of National Geographic)

Plastic pollution is one of the worst problems faced by our planet. In recent decades plastic use has exponentially increased.

Single-use plastic bags and plastic packaging are mainly the cause of it. Right after we use it, it gets thrown away. Sadly, some people irresponsibly litter, therefore triggering the start of our plastic pollution issue. Even though some may think that littering isn’t a problem at all, the effect isn’t just on the people who litter; it affects innocent ones who are trying to keep their environment clean. This is completely unfair to those who try to make this world a better place.

Plastic isn’t biodegradable, it’ll stay where it lands and won’t decompose as most materials do. Don’t get me wrong – plastic is one of the greatest inventions ever made, but we need to cut down on its usage, especially for single-use plastics. The use of single-use plastic bags has been rapidly increasing over the past few years which makes our plastics issue even worse than it already is. Unfortunately, over half of the people living on this planet don’t care about our plastic-polluted environment.

Yes, plastics do help us to carry things, but we can use other materials such as fabric bags. Not only can fabric bags be reused, but fabric is also harder to tear so we can use it more often.

Plastic bottles are another cause of plastic pollution. Plastic bottles are often used once and never again. These bottles usually end up in water bodies such as the seas and oceans, which, in turn, affects marine life.

Just one small piece of plastic could change the pollution rate, not only nationally but globally as well. The act of littering has a snowball effect. The longer it goes on, the bigger the problem becomes. Like the plastic issue, it grows rapidly as thousands or maybe even millions of people living on Earth are littering at this very moment.

There are already a few existing plastics-banning companies such as 4Ocean, The Ocean Clean-up, and many more. Some of the world’s biggest companies, such as McDonald’s, American Airlines, Guinness, United Airlines, The Walt Disney Company, Nestlé, Starbucks, Hyatt, Marriott International, IKEA and various others have recently started to reduce the usage of plastics.

Countries such as Singapore and Canada have come up with solutions for their plastic pollution. Singapore burns wastes such as plastic into ash, but the waste material doesn’t affect the air at all. These ashes are then collected and shipped to an offshore landfill site called Semakau. The ashes are buried in special water bodies that don’t affect sea life in any way. Canada’s plastics get recycled and they are in the process of banning plastics that are toxic or hard to recycle. Canada is stopping companies from making single-use plastics from virgin fossil resources and the country makes its big producers responsible for cleaning up their plastic mess.

WAYS TO PREVENT PLASTIC POLLUTION

  1. Avoid disposable plastic materials

Try bringing your utensils instead of using plastic utensils. The plastic forks, spoons, cups, and plates are there for us to use, but we only use them for a short time. By bringing your utensils, less plastic forks, spoons, plates, and cups will be used and will eventually lead to an overall decrease in the amount of plastic used.

  1. Avoid plastic packaging

Like plastic utensils, plastic packaging can only be used once. The plastic used for packaging is usually single-use which will most probably end up irresponsibly disposed of in water bodies.

  1. Don’t buy water in plastic bottles

Buying water in plastic bottles is not recommended since these plastic bottles are single-use plastics and will harm our environment. Try refilling your reusable plastic bottles or flasks. If everyone plays a part and does this, it will make a big difference to the environment.

  1. Ban single-use plastics

By banning single-use plastics from your life, this huge plastic pollution problem wouldn’t be as big as it is now. Single-use plastics are the main cause of plastic pollution and most people are using these items daily.

  1. Participate in beach clean-ups

We can reduce the environmental problem by taking part in local beach clean-ups which are really helpful. By just helping out with the plastics floating around the beach, not only will you definitely enjoy the beach more, but you’ll also have a clean environment.

  1. Remember the 4Rs – refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle

These four words are beneficial to address the plastic pollution problem. When faced with whether to use a piece of plastic or what to do with a piece of plastic, just run these four words through your mind and make the best decision.

We believe that plastic pollution can be addressed successfully with a combined effort from people all over the world, working hand in hand to address this plastic problem once and for all.

This article was written by Patricia Djojo Surjo, a student from SNA Media Academy (SNA) Singapore National Academy in Surabaya.

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