Plastic was discovered for serving mankind. It is cheap, adorable, long lasting, no fear of broken. It is replaced with glass, clay. But its excess use and improper dispose after discard becomes a threat for our ecosystem.
Plastic begins its journey but where it ends is the matter of discussion. In our day to day life plastic is present in every object we use. After discarding some fortunate plastic goes to recycle center and again get a chance for serving mankind. But others may end up in landfill or floating on water bodies. From here our ally plastic starts its journey as a foe. Both terrestrial biodiversity and marine biodiversity are badly affected due to plastic litter. Plastic takes millions of years to degrade. Every piece of it remain in environment.
Fishing gears like nets are always dangerous for aquatic animals. Aquatic animals entangle in unused nets and die due to suffocation. It is estimated that more than 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles get caught in these ghost nets. Seabirds use these nets for building their nests and get entangled.
Plastic waste float on the surface of water for many years. Seawater and sunlight embrittle the plastics into small pieces called microplastic. Sea turtles eat them by mistake. These microplastic clog their digestive track and lead to death. Microplastic persist in their body after death. Their bones start degrade but microplastic remain same. Small fish which are diet of big fish also eat microplastic. Microplastic enter the food chain and enter our body through this food chain. Not only fish, sea birds are also affected. Microplastics are also found in the dead body of sea birds.
Toxic gas from the dump yards pollute the air. The chemicals present in plastic product pass through the soil and mix with ground water or water bodies. These toxic liquids enter the bodies of living organism through drinking water. Animals or birds, search their food in waste dumps, die because of blocking of digestive tracts due to plastic wastes. Death of cows of our country is the best example. People live near landfill sites suffer from many diseases. The roots of trees are obstructed by the plastics present in the soil. Hence plants don’t grow well.
Landfill is the source of every plastic pollution. Plastic waste from dump yard goes to river. Then water from river flushes out to sea. The percentage of plastic waste comes to ocean through rivers is more than the plastic waste present in ocean. Ocean current carry plastic wastes from one place to another and deposited at ocean gyres. Some gyres become hotspot of plastic garbage.
If plastic wastes are managed properly then there will be no landfill. Then half of the problem will be solved. Many countries are adopting Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to bring a sense of responsibility among plastic manufactures. Single use plastics are banned in many countries. Segregation of waste and recycling should be given importance. Alternate of plastic should be promoted among peoples.
All types of species depend on each other to survive in a biodiversity. But we the most intelligent species on the Earth are contributing in destruction of our biodiversity. Remember we can’t survive without our ecosystem. It is also true that we can’t become completely independent on plastic. But we can bring some changes in our lifestyle like reducing excess use of plastic and give up the habit of throwing.
Next time before throwing a plastic bottle, please think about the fish.