The Problem with Plastic Pollution

Plastic bottles and net

What is plastic pollution?

Plastic is a harmful material which adversely affects all forms of life on earth and is not readily broken down and removed from natural ecosystems.

What is the main problem?

Simply it is the fact that plastic does not readily decompose and contains many harmful substances which are constantly accumulating in our environment as plastics are broken down into minute particles by physical processes. If this is not stopped there will be many serious consequences including major threats to both human health and the survival of many living organisms.

How big is the problem?

Plastic waste is accumulating at an accelerating rate and unless urgent remedial action is taken future generations will be faced with a deteriorating natural environment and an existential threat to the continuation of life on earth.

How long does plastic take to decompose?

Plastic is only slowly degradable and typically can take over a thousand years to be eradicated by natural processes. Even than there may be harmful residues remaining which will continue to pose a threat to the environment.

What environmental damage does plastic cause?

This is very wide ranging and affects all forms of life on both land and in the sea. Many terrestrial and marine species are threatened by the damage caused by plastic either by entrapment-seabirds for example being trapped in plastic fish nets-or even more seriously by the accumulation of minute plastic particles in a variety of living organisms.

Does recycling help?

Only to a very limited extent. Few plastics can be recycled and much is still dumped with little thought for the environmental consequences. Burning plastic can release dangerous toxins into the atmosphere. That is why it is so important to work for viable and sustainable alternatives to plastic which will stop us being engulfed by an impending environmental catastrophe.

Does it affect me?

Definitely! Apart from the despoliation of our natural environment which we are increasingly seeing in all parts of the world the steady accumulation of plastic has links to a range of illnesses and adverse health effects which impact us on all. No individual can ignore the implications of plastic pollution and we all have a responsibility to do as much as we can to halt what is becoming an environmental catastrophe.

What can I do?

Do everything you can to avoid plastic products. In particular stop using plastic packaging whenever you can and reuse plastic products to reduce plastic waste. One simple and economical way to make a practical contribution is to use long lasting and biodegradable bags in your daily shopping. Spread the word to others and collectively you can make a real difference!