Plastics are used in almost everything such as: food containers, protective clothing, computers, automotive, and building establishments. They are low cost, a good substitute for wood which reduces cutting down of trees, and only consumes 4% of the world’s oil production as feedstock compared to manufacturing metals, glasses and papers. Clearly, plastics have a lot of benefits to give, make our lives better, and have potentials to help protect the environment. But why have they become a global problem?

Everyday we are reminded to reduce our use of plastics as they cause hazardous effects on the environment, animals, and humans. Plastic pollution is a major threat to our planet. It accumulates solid waste in landfill and oceans, causes deaths in wildlife, and produces chemicals that are dangerous to human health.

Plastics are light materials but are nonbiodegradable. They stick around a lot longer than other forms of trash; some would even take a thousand years to decompose. Most of plastic wastes come from households which are dumped in landfill or simply abandoned. This waste is carried by the winds or pushed by heavy rains and floods into sewers, rivers, and oceans.

Around 80% of marine litter begins as waste on land causing deaths to marine animals by ingesting them or accidentally trapping them as they swim into tons of floating plastics in the ocean. Birds and land animals also mistaken plastics as food and are victims of plastic traps in the environment. I’m sure you have seen pictures of wildlife being trapped with nets, ropes, plastic bottles, and cellophanes. Three of the most common scenes are sea turtles trapped on fishing nets, seals suffocated due to a cellophane in their heads, and birds with a plastic cap in their beaks making them unable to eat.

Humans, the creators of plastics, are no exception. Plastics produces chemicals that are dangerous to their health causing life threatening diseases such as cancer, lung disease, liver problems, birth defects, neurological disorders, and deaths. Plastics are even present in their households especially in food containers which they unconsciously ingest as the chemicals are leaked into their foods. Phthalates, Bisphenol-A (BPA), and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) are a few of the more dangerous chemicals found in plastics.

Despite the negative impacts of plastics in the planet, they are here to stay. We will continue to produce and use plastics because of the many benefits they bring. They are light, easily shaped, durable, and inexpensive. It is impossible to stop their production. However, we can reduce their harmful effects by being responsible.

Negligence is one of the main reasons of why plastics become a global problem. It took us many years to appreciate their harmful effects. We become very dependent on the practicality and convenience of using plastics that the more we purchase them more often than we need to. We use them every day especially for food packaging and drink containers yet we’ve been irresponsible in managing our waste. We are not doing enough recycling and find the ease of throwing them into the trash bins, or just tossing them aside, right away instead of reusing them.

Waste management and learn to reduce, reuse, and recycle are of the easiest solution we can do to lessen the negative effects of plastics in our environment. We can start by using recyclable eco-bags when doing grocery, bringing reusable water containers for outdoor activities such as jogging and camping instead of buying water in plastic bottles, and recycling plastic containers as storage or planters.

The harmful effects of plastics in our planet are devastating but they are the consequences of our doing. It is important to act responsibly immediately to save this world for the next generations. Let us help protect our environment by caring. Pick up litter from beaches, parks, and mountains, avoid using plastics as much as possible, and educate yourself as well as other people on waste management.

Author's Bio: 

Isabella Whitmore is a writer who enjoys spending her time with the nature. You can find some of her work at https://electrickettlesplus.com/, and appliance website that offers safe and BPA-free electric kettles.