Plastic Pollution: How Does it Harm Humans?
Have you been hearing lately about the plastic pollution problem and want to know what’s happening? You’re in the right place. The point of this blog is to shed some light on why plastic is directly affecting not only the environment and the animals, but also humans.
Why did we start using plastic?
We started using plastic because it’s cheap and durable, but the problem is that it’s too durable that plastic items can take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills. Meaning, unless it’s been burnt, every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists today in some shape or form.
We produce about 300 million tons of plastic each year and only 9% of this plastic is being recycled while the rest is all trashed. A big portion of the trashed plastic ends up in our oceans. Plastic pollution in our oceans is so bad that in the middle of the North Pacific Gyre there’s an island composed mostly of plastic that is three times the size of France.
How does plastic directly harm animals?
For a start, plastic is killing more than one million seabirds and animals every year. Animals can’t always tell the difference between food and plastic, so when they consume a big piece of plastic it either gets stuck in their throats causing them to suffocate, or it accumulates in their stomach causing them to starve to death. Furthermore, after the animals die, their bodies decay, but the piece of plastic in their bodies doesn’t. Eventually, the same piece of plastic is released into the world for another animal to consume leading them to the same painful death.
How Does plastic directly harm humans?
Because plastic doesn’t decompose; when it’s exposed to the water, sun, and wind it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Those small pieces are called microplastics. Microplastics can reach the size of a sesame seed if not smaller. They can be found in ocean water around the globe. Naturally fish, seabirds, and animals will consume them making their way to humans who consume those same fish and animals. In fact, the average person eats 70,000 microplastics each year. This is very unhealthy because the toxins and chemicals in plastic are directly linked to immune system problems, cancer, and other dangerous health problems.
What should we do?
Now the point of this blog is not to say that we shouldn’t use plastic at all, because for most people it’s going to be extremely hard. Plastic is also incredibly useful. For example, we heavily use plastic in the medical industry to improve people’s lives (like disposable syringes for diabetics). Without it, we also wouldn’t have any of our electronic devices (computers, phones, cameras, etc). However, the problem arises when we misuse plastic and trash it without knowing where it will end up.
And because we all use and throw away plastic, we can put the blame on one person only. It’s collectively our problem. So we need to be more conscious of our plastic usage, try to minimize plastic usage when we can, and find a recycling center near us to recycle your plastic there instead of trashing it. At the end of the day, if we all make a small change in our lives, we’ll soon see a big positive change in our beloved Earth.