The environmental movement was never so strong as in 2019. More people than ever before marched and gathered for environmental causes. Issues like climate change, animal welfare, and plastic pollution were just some of the reasons that brought people together in solidarity.
While all of these issues are important, plastic pollution is now a top concern of many environmentalists. Plastic pollution is causing issues for the planet, wildlife, and human health. The plastic crisis is growing in severity each year. The oceans around the world are feeling the majority of the consequences. The Ocean Conservancy estimates that over 150 million metric tons of plastic are circulating the seas, currently, with 8 million metric tons added each year.
Plastic pollution endangers marine life, and has been linked to causing over 100,000 marine animal deaths per year. The insulating power of plastic has even been linked to accelerating climate change and disturbing normal ocean temperature fluctuations. Packaging, fishing nets and equipment, and bottles are just a fraction of the variety of plastic items discarded into the sea.
Plastic typically enters the environment by littering, or intentionally discarding, or through wind. Plastics are incredibly light, meaning they are able to fly out of recycling bins or garbage bins, garbage trucks, and landfills with ease. They are then able to reach the ocean or other water bodies.
A new plastic pollution issue has emerged since the pandemic: face masks. They are washing up on beaches, where one group gathered 70 masks in a 100 meter length of beach. Masks are especially dangerous to wildlife, as they promote entanglement by the ear ties, which are normally made of an elastic-plastic hybrid material. Sea turtles and seabirds are especially vulnerable to this
In addition, swap out plastic straws for reusable metal straws. Not only are they effective at protecting the environment and wildlife, they are easy to pack away, clean, and give a more luxurious feel than plastic straws.
While reusable bags are not allowed in many places right now, they are one of the best reusable swaps you can ever make. Keep using them as often as allowable.
And finally, ensure that your face masks are disposed on properly. Ensure they make it into a garbage bin, and cut the ear ties before disposing of your masks. Together, we may be able to end plastic pollution.