The marine ecosystem protects and feeds many creatures. When humans dump plastic and other untreated waste into the ocean, they risk the lives of innocent creatures. We could all enjoy free spins and other good things in life if we conserve the environment for humans and animals. Research shows that the world produces more than three million tons of plastic each year.
Unfortunately, fourteen million or more end up in the ocean. Thus, about eighty per cent of all ocean waste and debris is plastic. When marine creatures swallow or enter a plastic muddle, they die or survive with injuries. Not only does plastic pollution put food security at risk. It also contributes to climate change and damages tourism. Read more to understand this crisis.
What is wrong with plastic waste?
Plastic is a useful material in various sectors of the economy. There are all sorts of plastic appliances, bags, toys, electronics, etc. That can explain why the world produces over three hundred million tons every year. Some plastic items are more durable and eco-friendlier than single-use items. The latter are the ones you find lying everywhere, including shopping bags, drinking straws, water bottles, cups, and more. Because of poor disposal, single-use plastics are a threat to human and animal lives. As earlier highlighted, at least fourteen million tons of plastic reach the oceans every year. Of all debris found on the water surface and deep in the waters, eighty per cent consists of plastic. No matter which continent you are in, the shores of their ocean, sea, or lake have plastic waste.
But who dumps plastic in the ocean?
People themselves are to blame no matter how plastic gets to the shores. Some of them throw waste everywhere without caring about the harm it could cause. Some of this waste gets to the ocean and other water bodies through sewer waste, floodwaters, industrial wastewater, construction activities, and other illegal human activities. Fierce winds, waves, and other natural forces push the plastic waste inside the ocean and eventually crush it into particles that are less than 5mm large. These pieces are known as microplastics. When fish and other sea animals ingest microplastics, they may die.
Have the governments failed?
Yes, governments of various countries have failed to create the right infrastructure to stop plastic contamination. They have no adequate sanitary landfills, sufficient recycling ability, and proper waste management and disposal systems. If waste management systems continue to be inadequate, they will not contain the tons of plastic waste we let into oceans, rivers, seas, and lakes every year.
Hence, we will continue threatening the health of sea animals and our food safety and quality. If humans eat contaminated fish, they will put their health at risk. The more we damage our ecosystems, the more we will fuel climate change. Some animals may not ingest microplastics or nanoplastics. Instead, they will entangled in the plastic mess and suffocate.
Besides, various marine animals might mistake plastic waste for food. Before dying, they may suffer starvation, infections, lacerations, and immobility due to injuries. Did you know that microplastics can be present in tap water, salt, and beer? Human activities that cause the dumping of plastic on the shores might end up ruining people’s health.
Microplastics might have carcinogens that can lead to cancer. Consumption of seafood helps to transfer these carcinogens to humans. If tourists find debris on a beach, they will choose not to come back. Failure to come back means less income from tourism.
Nations have a responsibility to stop the dumping of plastic waste on their beaches. One technique is to find a sustainable way to recycle or destroy plastic waste without emitting carbon dioxide and methane gases into the air. They should aim to know the causes of plastic pollution and eliminate them. That will be more sustainable and resilient than cleaning the shores occasionally.