We have depended on plastic for many years, and now we’re drowning in it. It’s become almost impossible to go an entire day without at least making use of some sort of plastic. The world produces 10 tons of the stuff a second, or just under 300 million tonnes a year – equivalent to the weight of the planet’s entire adult population. A million plastic bottles are used per minute around the world, experts estimate that between 5 and 14 million tons of this finds its way into our oceans each year, and that 80% of the waste in the ocean is plastic which means that an estimated 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic now litter the world’s oceans. Some of it washes up on beaches, while about 5 trillion pieces float in surface waters, mostly in the form of tiny, easy-to-swallow fragments that end up in the guts of marine life. And of course, that hasn’t ended well for them. Not in the least. Plastic pollution kills around 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every year. In Indonesia last year, 115 plastic cups, 4 bottles and 2 flip-flops were found inside a dead whale, and dramatic stories such as this abound around the world.
If you’d like, take a minute to reexamine the numbers in the paragraph you’ve just read. They’re mind-boggling, and the potential for them to be even more overwhelming increases exponentially each second. Which is why experts point out that, without big action, at the current rate, pieces of plastic will outnumber fish in the ocean by 2050.
Picture yourself waking up on a Saturday morning, one week on from your 51st birthday, to a news headline that reads “EXPERTS WERE CORRECT, AS YOU’D ALMOST CERTAINLY EXPECT EXPERTS TO BE. OCEANS NOW CLOGGED UP WITH THOUSANDS OF TRILLIONS OF PIECES OF PLASTIC; MARINE LIFE AS WE KNOW IT WILL COME TO AN END IN COMING YEARS.” An overenthusiastic news channel might even add “YOU DISGUSTING PIECES OF SH*T, YOU’VE JUST RUINED THE PLANET FOR YOUR KIDS. WE TRULY HOPE THAT YOU A****LES ARE PROUD OF YOURSELVES, WE BEING THE ENTIRE NEWS TEAM HERE AT whosaysyoucan’tswearonTV“
Now, as students what can we do about this problem? As is the case with so many things Third World, consciousness is the first step towards a fix. It does make for pretty grim reading; 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the waters of the world, and consciousness is the first step. Peter Jones, the founder of charity Just One Ocean, says “Over the last ten years, we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century. Plastic now accounts for around 10% of the total waste we generate, and virtually every piece of plastic that has been made still exists somewhere on the planet“.
The fact that something as permanent as plastic exists in such catastrophic numbers is troubling, and there is only so much non-action our minds can take when the knowledge of something truly troubling is at its forefront. So, as you go through your daily tasks, don’t forget to remember how bad our plastic problem is, and how awful it could be.
Statistics from: itmustbenow.com
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