Would You Like Some Fish With Your Plastic?
Every day, over 500 tonnes of plastic enters our oceans. Most of which is comprised of plastic products designed to be used once and tossed, such as water and soda bottles and caps, food wrappers, to-go containers, plastic cutlery, cigarette butts, grocery bags etc. In fact, 1 million plastic water bottles are used and tossed every minute 1 A Plastic Wave Documentary . Plastics fill, clog, and contaminate waterways, kill wildlife that accidentally consumes it, create breeding grounds for vectors (like mosquitoes) that transmit deadly diseases, and damage our endocrine, respiratory, nervous, and reproductive systems 2 https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/25496/singleUsePlastic_sustainability.pdf?isAllowed=y&sequence=1 .
Most plastic does not biodegrade, so be wary of companies claiming that their plastic product does. Instead plastics slowly break down into smaller and smaller pieces, until they are microscopic and naked to the eye. These pieces are called microplastics and although they cannot be seen with the naked eye, they are still dangerous to our health and to the environment 3 https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/25496/singleUsePlastic_sustainability.pdf?isAllowed=y&sequence=1 Bioaccumulation is one of the issues of microplastics. “Bioaccumulation is the process of smaller fish getting eaten by larger fish resulting in toxic chemicals intensifying as they move up the food chain” 4 National Geographic Documentary – Care About the Ocean? Think Twice About Your Coffee Lid. . The fish is then consumed by humans and those microplastics and all the chemicals that have accumulated by small fish eating plankton who ate plastic, being eaten by larger fish, that get eaten by even bigger fish, affect our health negatively.
“It’s Only One Straw”, Said 8 Billion People-unknown
Plastic bag and straw bans are great, however, they don’t address the root of the issue, which is a global systematic reliance on plastic. In order to make a considerable change production and waste management practices need to improve 5
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqKxY519PSE . Basically, we need to stop making plastic and we need to find new ways to use the plastic that we’ve already created, that plastic will be here forever.
What can you do to make a difference?
- REFUSE. The best way to reduce plastic into your life is to refuse it
- Use cloth bags for groceries and produce
- Choose a naked or paper packed product over a plastic packaged one
- Use what you have instead of single-use items (paper towels=cloth rags, plastic cups=mugs and reusable cups, plastic cutlery=metal cutlery)
- Contact the places and companies you shop at and let them know that you want better options
- What kind of single-use plastics do you see in your home?
- What are some alternatives to those items?
- How can you reduce your dependence on those plastics?
Alane Ertel is a graduate from the MPH program at the University of North Florida, and was an Intern at their Environmental Center during the creation of this project. Alane’s goal in creating this project is to increase awareness of environmental issues, spread zero/low waste practices, and improve environmental and human health by utilizing her passions for the environment and for creating a healthier society.