The dangers of plastic pollution and how to deal with them
Our current situation with plastics isn't new. It's been going on for quite a while, and sadly, efforts to combat it have only managed to stifle the worsening of the problem slightly.
Due to the numerous toxins released during the manufacturing and usage of plastic products, they're incredibly harmful to our bodies. Plastics alter our hormonal balance, affecting the very way in which our body functions, weaken our immune system and put us at risk of numerous diseases. But that's not all. They're also exceedingly harmful to nature. Every year, numerous mammals, birds and marine animals fall victim to plastic pollution. Neither the tiniest of fish nor the mightiest of whales have a way to combat the effects of plastics. And with the number of animals dwindling, this can spell disaster for the entire eco-system. You've all seen science fiction movies, I don't think I need to explain the catastrophic possibilities this can have.
Then, there's also the fact that we ourselves eat some of these animals. Not long ago, researches came out with a prediction that, by 2020, every single fish in the world's oceans would've consumed plastic at least once throughout their lifespan. Knowing this, would you really be comfortable eating fish? What about letting your friends and family do it? Your children?
If we are to save what's left of our world and preserve some semblance of a "natural environment, we need to act, and we need to do it fast.
And that's precisely what Sir David Attenborough has set out to do.
Famous for his wildlife broadcasts and firm environmentally-friendly stance, Sir Attenborough is now urging consumer goods manufacturers to think of the environment first and of profits later.
While we're all well aware of the devastating effect that plastics have on the natural world around us, few people know of how this affects them as individuals. And, given the fact that most of us are very likely to ignore everything that doesn't immediately impact us in an obvious way, far too many people are ignoring the issue altogether.
Well, Mr Attenborough has found a new angle to approach these types of people from – he's not only talking about possible health problems down the line, but about people losing their lives right now because of plastic pollution, and he's got the numbers to back it up!
Waste is causing millions of deaths per year in developing countries, he says, with about one death every 30 seconds. Blocked drains and floods in developing have allowed diarrhoea and malaria to run amok, inflicting pain and suffering to countless innocents.
According to the Tearfund development agency, there is a "double-decker bus-load of waste being dumped every second". And this is happening in places where less than 10 per cent of the rubbish being correctly disposed of. The situation is further worsened by the fact that a lot of communities resort to burning their waste as a means to get rid of it. From there, it easily finds its way into the waterways, blocking drains, causing floods and spreading deadly diseases.
Yesterday, Sir Attenborough launched a new campaign, aimed at consumer goods manufacturers. Companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle and Unilever should be at the forefront of combating the issue, David insists. We should all be aiming to lower our plastic consumption, but they're the ones that should be taking the drastic measures, as they are responsible for a vast number of single-use plastic products. The campaign urges these companies to halve their throwaway plastic usage by 2025 and collect at least one throwaway item for every one they sell by 2022.
Representatives of the consumer goods companies have stated that they already are working to combat some of these issues, but are unable to do more right now. Others are running anti-pollution campaigns and initiatives on their own. PepsiCo, for example, has been workings towards "addressing the growing issue of plastic packaging waste", both in developing and already developed communities. Spokespeople from Nestle and Coca-Cola have also chimed in on the situation, stating that they're determined to reduce their usage of single-use plastics and do their best to help our world stay cleaner."
And while the multi-billion-dollar companies are trying to decide how to one-up each other, the push for change has to ultimately come from the individual level. Each and every one of us has to realise not only that the problem is real and very dangerous, but that it's up to us to fix it. If everyone tried their best to limit their plastic consumption, our world would benefit much more than from anything any corporation can do.
It's all about the mentality
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the way we think and act. To the choices that we make. There are numerous throwaway plastic products, manufactured by countless brands. And while companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi are responsible for a significant portion of plastic bottles and cups, they're not the real problem. After all, they're just businesses, run by people seeking profit. Right now, throwaway plastic packaging seems to be most suitable for their products, and they've gone with it.
There is, however, nobody forcing you to buy their products. Even if they don't make the changes that they're alluding to, that gives us no excuse to continue polluting the world with plastics.
Eco-friendliness is the only real solution to plastic pollution!
And by eco-friendliness, I don't just mean positively-sounding campaigns or inspiring slogans. I mean eco-friendliness on the individual level.
Imagine for a second that everyone in the world could somehow realise the real consequences of using this many plastic products. Do you think that anyone would even think about buying the products of these companies? The answer is no. People would shun them for the destructive practices, and they'd be forced to either change their ways or simply go out of business.
But why isn't this happening? Why aren't people magically waking to the real problems?
The answer is quite simple – because it's easier not to do it. Staying clueless, or, what's worse – acting as if you're clueless – is much, much easier than going through the effort of changing your entire lifestyle, switching over to healthier habits and going zero-waste. These are significant changes, which need to be introduced gradually in our lives if we are to have any hope of sticking with the end-goal.
We've been cultivating our eco-friendly mindset for quite a while now, and believe us when we say that going at your own pace is the best approach. You just can't expect to be comfortable with changing everything about yourself overnight. Not if you want to achieve any lasting results, that is. As we often say – green living isn't a race. It's not even a marathon. It's a lifelong transformational journey.
So, our advice to you is simple – start small.
Introduce one change per week, or even – one change per month. Begin slowly phasing out the plastic products from your life, do some research in your spare time to stay on track and inspired, and most important of all – don't annoy your friends and family about your "new lifestyle choice". Green living isn't a fad, and you should never attempt to push it on people. Instead, try leading by example, even if you don't feel like a natural leader. Simply live your life better, and people will eventually notice that, for some reason, you seem like you're better off. You're happier, healthier and have more energy than before. And they'll start coming to you with questions.
We believe that, at the end of the day, our world is our responsibility. And even though it might not be entirely your fault or mine, It's up to all us, as individuals, to fix this mess. So, we, too would like to urge you to start making greener changes in your life. Start as small as you need to and work your way from there. But remember – the sooner we start, the better our chances for making things right again.
We need more people like David Attenborough. Let's fight plastic pollution together and save our planet. There's no planet B. Let's all make a difference together.