Plastic is a part of the everyday convenience of modern life.
We use plastic when we’re shopping, eating, drinking – we even wear it. But our tendency as humans to be irresponsible about cleaning up after ourselves is about to get us into trouble.
The average person produces half a pound of plastic waste every day. That’s 3.5 pounds a week and 182 pounds a year.
Over a few decades, humans have managed to dump tons upon tons of garbage into the ocean. Plastics travel through the sea where currents meet, forming huge plastic islands. The most well-known being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located in central North Pacific Ocean and is larger than Texas.
The worst part of it all is that plastics are almost indestructible, taking thousands of years to decompose. As a result, fish and wildlife are becoming intoxicated, which means toxins from plastic has entered the food chain, threatening human health.
Plastics act like a sponge, soaking up other toxins from outside sources. As these chemicals are swallowed by animals, mainly marine, this isn’t good for humans because we are ingesting contaminated fish.
Plastic is dangerous for humans in different types of ways. Direct toxicity from plastics comes from lead, cadmium and mercury. Other toxins in plastics are directly linked to cancers, birth defects, immune system problems and childhood developmental issues.
Bisphenol A – (BPA) is a fundamental building block of strong synthetic plastics, such as bottled water, food packaging and other items. Its bonds can gradually break down from being washed repetitively, exposed to heat and other stresses. The breakdown can then enter the body in many ways, including drinking contaminated water.
BPA is also found in items such as receipts which can quickly pass into our system by getting the chemicals on our fingers. BPA is a known chemical that interferes with human hormonal function.
A large part of the problem is that we don’t realise how the issue begins with just one person.
One of the most productive things we could all do is to be responsible for our waste. When you have the opportunity, try to avoid plastic packaged products. Always recycle plastic when you do use it. Ask for paper bags if you can at the shops or bring your own and most importantly, don’t litter.