It would not be wrong to say that plastic has become an indispensable part of our day to day life. Though convenient to use, Plastic bans are now in vogue, posing an alarming threat to the environment. In order to combat plastic pollution, several countries have begun banning various plastic products that often get thrown away after one use.
Though, in the United States, these efforts have been focused on the plastic straw. Starbucks and Walt Disney Company announced to eliminate single-use plastic straws in all its branches over the next year as part of its “journey of environmental stewardship.” Instead, customers will be given a new lid for cold drinks.
Why is everyone focusing on just the straw?
Straws might not be biggest problem when it comes to marine plastic pollution. But activists hope that straws will act like a gateway plastic that will encourage people to forgo other single-use plastics such as bags and bottles. The deeper motivation behind this act is to build support and awareness for the need to ban other plastic products that are more significant sources of plastic solution than straws.
With regard to straw ban movement in Seattle, the executive director of Lonely Whale commented, “Our straw campaign is not really about straws. It’s about pointing out how prevalent single-use plastics are in our lives, putting up a mirror to hold us accountable. We’ve all been asleep at the wheel.”
Why is plastic such a big threat to environment?
People are frequently seen to dispose of plastic items, but they don’t bother that plastics do not degrade or if possible a single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Unfortunately, the earth has turned into a dumping ground of plastic waste. According to environmental experts, if strict measures are not taken to reduce the use of plastic, then by 2050, the oceans will have more plastic waste than fishes, reports suggest.
To destroy plastics, we sometimes end up to burn them in the open air. Consequently, they release incredible amount of harmful gases which ultimately pollute air. If these toxins are inhaled for a long period of time, it can lead to respiratory problems. Though in negligible content, they also add to greenhouse effect which is another threat for survival of humans and animals.
Plastic when becomes waste, tends to end up in landfills or wash into the ocean. There are about 150 million metric tons of plastics in the ocean which are responsible to cause damage to marine life partially due to strangulation or choking. According to a recent study, plastic kills coral reefs by making them more susceptible to disease.
Plastic toxins from dumps and litter can also seep into the groundwater and thus damages groundwater sources as well.
How can we save our environment from plastic pollution?
In India, ahead of Independence Day 2018, the Centre has urged all citizens not to use national flag made of plastic. It also asked states and Union Territories to ensure strict compliance of the flag code. In terms of this code, flags made of paper only are to be used by public and such paper flags are not to be discarded or thrown on the ground after the event. This could somehow be a small step to a big change.
There are many ways by which we can save our environment from hazardous plastic pollution. As an individual level, we can:
A. Build support and awareness to ban more significant sources of plastic pollution.
B. Try to cut down the use of plastic wherever possible.
C. Recycle the plastic instead of throwing it here and there.
D. Always bring a reusable bag to the grocery store, and keep reusing it.
E. Replace the use of those pesky single-use plastics, with recyclable ones.
F. Choose biodegradable paper or reusable straws instead of using single-use plastic straws.