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Essay

Immanuel Ogendo

Year-Prize: The 11th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Beat Plastic Pollution

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Beat Plastic Pollution: If you can reuse it, refuse it

 

Immanuel Ogendo (Kenya)
Honorable Mention


Roses are red. Violets are blue. There's plastic in the sea, and also inside you. You didn't misread those last word; there is plastic lining the inside of your stomach and possibly even your lungs. It's slowly and silently depredating your health, and we have nothing but ourselves to blame. If you thought it was only animals who accidentally eat plastic, then you're wrong. Plastic is in the water we drink, the food we eat, the same we give to friend and foe.
When we discovered plastic, we thought we had found the paramount of all materials. It was cheap, durable and multipurpose. Food lasted longer and not at the expense of an overflowing wallet. We didn't have to worry about it rotting because it was immune to all the environment's attempts. Humanity had made another leap forward. Plastic is integral to modern life, but at what expense? More than 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic have become waste since 1907. Only a minuscule nine per cent of this plastic was recycled. Twelve per cent of it is burnt, releasing toxins into the air you would not even force your worst enemy to inhale.
In fact, as I write this right now, I can watch as my neighbour yet again burns a pile of rubbish, not knowing the toxins they release into the air right next to this school of children and young adults. Furthermore, since it is within Kenya's law, I cannot tell them to stop, even if I told him about the acids may corrode their lungs or the heavy metals may negatively affect their biological systems. However, it gets worse as the pollutants clamber into the atmosphere, acidifying the life-giving rain. This rain pollutes the lakes and rivers that we rely on for water. It kills the trees that made land habitable for animals in the first place, without them would mean our doom.
But this is not the end, around eight million tons a year end up in the ocean. When these plastics are in the sea, they break down into small pieces called "microplastics" due to exposure to the elements. These microplastics are eaten by zooplankton, the zooplankton is eaten by predatory fish and shellfish and as a result, end up in our stomachs. In addition, there is microplastic in our tap water, sea salt and even in the dust in our house. We're continually inhaling and ingesting microplastics, which contain a multitude of chemicals that have been proven to be our bodies' worst nightmares. Plastic kills animals-which cannot be described as anything more than innocent-daily, animals we have the responsibility of protecting. And it seems that nature has decided that we will go down with it. But what do we do about it?
Nothing. We cannot do anything now. The plastic in the oceans, the atmosphere and in our own houses cannot be cleaned up, at least with today's technology. There is nothing we can do about the plastic in our water and our food. But the good news is that there is something we can do about the plastic being added: If you can reuse it, refuse it. There have never been words so right in a scenario. Plastic has brought us to the future, but with enough already being in circulation, we can do very well just recycling what we have.
Firstly, if we started recycling the amount of plastic we have thrown away, it would be so much more than we need at the moment. Also, this may stop burning, which will in effect also reduce the emissions of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. Most important is that we have to keep in mind that what we put into the environment will stay in the environment in one form or another. Plastic is a valuable resource, but it is also reusable. Recycling is most likely going to happen sooner or later also, as the global hydrocarbon sources deplete, the ability to produce plastic will also deplete. It is best to use it now before we no longer can when there are no more resources left, and all the plastic left lying around is no longer traceable. So, if we started using plastic responsibly by reusing it, then we would manage to decrease the adverse effects it is having on us and our environment, and maybe, just maybe be able to save ourselves and future generations of human, animals and plants alike.
Refrences:
• Roland Geyer, Jenna r. Jambeck et al. Science advances 2107
• Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The New Plastics Economy 2018
• Sarah E.Nelms et al, Enviromental Pollution. 2018
• Gerd Liebezeit et al, Food Additives & Contaminants. 2013
• Kosuth M at al, PLoS ONE, 2018
• Ana I, Catarine et al, Environmental Pollution 2018.

 

 

5 Comments

Viraaj Kulshreshtha

Manjesh Jha

  • Manjesh Jha says :
    Congratultions.
    Posted 31-10-2018 19:56

Aman Gangwar

  • Aman Gangwar says :
    congrats Immanuel.
    Posted 31-10-2018 19:49

Kajal Saini

  • Kajal Saini says :
    Congratulations Immanuel.
    Posted 26-10-2018 13:02

Archa B Jayan

  • Archa B Jayan says :
    Congrats Immanuel!!!
    Posted 24-10-2018 00:55

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