A plastic pandemic is polluting our land and marine environments; it doesn’t biodegrade and is even entering our food chains.
Plastic is made from oil, encouraging a massively polluting industry, and are made deliberately to be long lasting. Consequently they do not disappear once discarded, they stay in our environment. Plastic does not biodegrade, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, into microplastics and nanoplastics which are are now found in sealife, even in the fish we eat.
Single use plastics in particular – like most packaging – are a massive, unnecessary, and expensive waste of these resources.
Plastic pollution is rife, consider that all plastics end up in one of these places:
- landfill, where it remains, leaching poisons, for decades or centuries
- incinerators, which are polluting (especially older plants)
- the land environment (litter) where it pollutes, kills wildlife that ingest it, and reduces our own quality of life
- the marine environment, again where it pollutes and kills, but also enters our own food chain via fish
- recycling, which although helpful is still energy demanding, and not generally very efficient
To tackle this problem means reducing what plastic we use, especially single-use plastic items and packaging, and reusing plastic items as often as we can. We also need to improve recyclability and recycling where plastic use is unavoidable. Some 350 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year, half of which is only ever used once.
Sadly, we know that seabird ingest plastic and their nests are increasingly made using plastic. Turtles ingest plastic, and whales ingest plastic (source https://plasticoceans.uk/). We also know that chemicals from plastics cause cancer, birth defects and developmental problems in children.
All of these problems needs to be addressed, and our individual actions to reduce plastic use can add up to be an important part of that. Please register as a Rotary World Saver and share your commitment to reducing plastic use.