Since the global production of plastic started in the late 1960s, our dependence on plastic has increased since then. We use plastic in almost every of our daily use products. It has become an inseparable part of our life. The dependency on plastic is causing great harm to us and to our beautiful environment. As per 2016 data, we have produced almost 335 million metric tonnes of plastic till now. If we go with this pace than by 2050, the amount of plastic will equal the amount of fish in the ocean. Plastic is now found everywhere rivers, lakes, high altitude mountains, desert, snow-covered glaciers, deep ocean.
Plastic waste takes years to degrade. A plastic bottle can take up to 450-1000 years to degrade in the environment. Every minute, 1 million plastic drinking bottles are purchased around the world. Every year we use up to 5 trillion disposable plastic bags. Plastic in the ocean has accumulated in five major garbage patches and one of these garbage patches named Pacific Garbage Patch is almost three times the size of France.
The plastic industry is also expanding with greater pace and the amounts of plastic wastes are increasing every year. India produces more than 25,000 tonnes of plastic every single day and 80% of these plastics are being dumped as waste material. Although the per capita uses of plastic in India is only around 11 kg per year which is very low as compared to countries like USA where per capita plastic consumption is around 109 kg per year, the large population and the high amount (>80%) of mismanaged waste is leading to severe plastic pollution in the country.
It is no surprise that microplastics are now found in bottled water, honey, beer, salts, fish, clams etc. It has been found that 1kg of salt contains around 600 microplastics. A seafood lover may be consuming thousands of these tiny particles every month without even been aware of it. Our personal product is also a significant source of these microplastics. Every year thousands of tonnes of plastic microbeads are being washed into the ocean through are the facial scrubs and shower gels. Several countries like the USA, the European Union has banned the production of these PCPs but in countries like India, it is still being sold in the market.
Some studies have also shown that almost 70,000 microplastics enter our food annually through indoor dust. We had been consuming microplastic through various sources and there is no surprise when a scientist has also found microplastic in human stool. Several NGOs and companies are making an effort to aware people around the world and to encourage the alternative uses for plastic waste. Recycling, reuse, or alternative use of plastic waste can help reduce the amount of virgin plastic produced. It is high time that we stop using plastic in our daily life and save the environment and ultimately protect ourselves.
Author Bio: Dr.Jacky Bhagat is a marine researcher and the founder of www.saveandtravel.in
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