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Essay

Abdullateef Abdul

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

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 Small strides, lasting impacts

 

Abdullateef Abdul (Nigeria)

Honorable Mention

 

Plastics have become an integral part of modern lifestyle. When thirsty, we casually reach for that nearby plastic water bottle. In restaurants, we ask that our meals are packed in disposable plastic containers with disposable plastic cutlery. When shopping, we use plastic bags for packaging.  Plastics are a sort of modern fancy which are now very pervasive. But what we might not know or tend often to forget is the broader implications of our minute strides. Little do we appreciate the wider impacts of those small everyday decisions of modern lifestyle. Little do we know the damage we are doing not just to our natural ecosystem and our planet – but also in the long term to the human race – through our over-use of and dependence on plastics. Each plastic we generate, use and release to our habitat has telling impacts on our planet.

From the 1950s up to 2018, an estimated 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced worldwide, of which only an estimated 9% has been recycled and another 12% has been incinerated. The remaining 79 % is essentially either in landfill or in the habitat polluting the environment.  90% of seabirds contain plastic debris,  thus, posing great hazard to sea life. It is estimated that with the current rate of plastic pollution in our planet, the oceans will contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish by 2025 and more plastic than fish by weight by 2050. 

It is true that plastics has its good uses and is a sort of modern convenience and fancy. But they are overused and because they are essentially fossil fuels-generated single-use indestructible materials, they have also become very harmful to our natural ecosystem and the human race. And thankfully, they are replaceable by portable eco-friendly reusable items. It is important for us to take action now to save our human race, to save animals and sea life, as well as, our natural ecosystem.

The key to saving our planet by beating plastic pollution consists in small strides.  Just as increased demand for single-use plastics generates the continuous production and supply for them, a lessened demand would translate into lesser supply. At the individual level, we must begin to place less reliance on plastics. For instance, we can jettison disposable plastic bottles by replacing them with stainless steel water bottles. When we go shopping, we can go with our reusable bags for packaging, rather than rely on plastic bags. We can also buy items in bulk to nix the packaging waste. We can opt for an edible cone of ice-cream over a plastic cup with a plastic spoon.

Businesses also have a role to play in beating plastic pollution. Instead of plastics, businesses can adopt reusable, bio-degradable alternative materials for packaging, storing and bagging items. They can also charge customers for every plastic bag. On the flip side, businesses may then incentivize customers to contribute to recycling of used plastics by operating a business model that returns part of the purchase price to customers upon return of plastics for recycling. Governments are also not to be left out. From a heavy tax on the plastic industry to disincentivise the business of plastic production to an outright or limited ban on the production or use of plastics, there are many options available to governments to eliminate or curb plastic pollution.

In the long term, beating plastic pollution is a collective task incumbent on humanity for the preservation of our collective heritage. Each of us, as individuals, government officials and non-state actors has a role to play in beating plastic pollution and from our personal lifestyle choices to business and governmental decisions, our small strides will have lasting impacts on our planet.

 


[1] "The known unknowns of plastic pollution". The Economist. 3 March 2018. <https://www.economist.com/international/2018/03/03/the-known-unknowns-of-plastic-pollution> accessed 31 August 2018.

[1] Mathieu-Denoncourt, Justine; Wallace, Sarah J.; de Solla, Shane R.; Langlois, Valerie S. (November 2014). "Plasticizer endocrine disruption: Highlighting developmental and reproductive effects in mammals and non-mammalian aquatic species". General and Comparative Endocrinology Volume 219, 1 August 2015, Pages 74-88. <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016648014004225?via%3Dihub> accessed 31 August 2018.

[1] Sutter, John D. (12 December 2016). "How to stop the sixth mass extinction". CNN <https://edition.cnn.com/2016/12/12/world/sutter-vanishing-help/> accessed 31 August 2018


9 Comments

Nihat Hajiyev

Aman Gangwar

  • Aman Gangwar says :
    Congratulations!!
    Posted 31-10-2018 19:41

Manjesh Jha

  • Manjesh Jha says :
    Congratulations.
    Posted 31-10-2018 19:41

Neha Singh

  • Neha Singh says :
    Congratulations Abdullateef.
    Posted 30-10-2018 02:08

Kajal Saini

  • Kajal Saini says :
    Congratulations.
    Posted 26-10-2018 12:47

Dikhsa Negi

  • Dikhsa Negi says :
    Congratulations.
    Posted 24-10-2018 21:26

Archa B Jayan

Pio  Mwita

  • Pio Mwita says :
    Woooooooow it's quite impressive
    Posted 22-10-2018 21:32

Viraaj Kulshreshtha

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