Plastic Pollution


Introduction
Since the days of ancient Phoenician mariners, seagoers have been dumping their trash at sea. Back in those days, the oceans could easily handle the waste, but today, both the nature and the quantity of trash have changed. Today, what gets tossed overboard can have a deadly impact on marine life and cause problems for other boaters. 

Plastic, the wonder material that we use for everything, is perhaps the most harmful of this trash because it does not readily break down in nature. In fact, the plastic that goes over the side today may still be around in hundreds of years to foul up the fishing gear, boat propellers, and beaches of future generations, not to mention what it will do to countless generations of marine life and seabirds that eat it or get tangled up in it.

Careless disposal of plastics can have dire consequences. The six-pack ring, which relieves us of having to juggle six cans at once, can become a deadly noose for a bird or fish. A plastic bag looks like a tasty jellyfish to an indiscriminate feeder like the sea turtle, but plastic is indigestible. It can choke, block the intestines of, or cause infection in those animals that consume it. A plastic bag can also clog an outboard engine's cooling system. Lost or discarded monofilament fishing line can foul propellers, destroying oil seals and lower units on engines, or it can become an entangling web for fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. 

According to the Center for Marine Conservation, over 25,000 pieces of fishing line were collected from U.S. beaches during the 1996 annual beach cleanup, and at least 40% of all animal entanglements reported during the cleanups involved fishing line. 

Every day, more and more plastic is accumulating in our oceans. Recreational boaters are not the only group that improperly disposes of plastic refuse at sea. Plastics also enter the marine environment from sewage outfalls, merchant shipping, commercial fishing operations, and beachgoers.

Plastics pose a serious enough threat to the marine environment that, in 1987, Congress enacted the Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act. This law prohibits the dumping of plastics in all U.S. waters and applies to all watercraft -- from the smallest recreational boat to the largest commercial ship. In addition, marinas are required to maintain adequate facilities for the disposal of refuse regulated under this act.

You can do something to reduce plastic pollution. 
u Make it a rule that no trash goes overboard, especially old fishing line, which is particularly hazardous to marine life.
u Substitute reusable containers and other items for disposable ones to reduce the volume of trash.
u Stow your trash for proper disposal in port. 

Plastic really is fantastic. The problem is improper disposal. Remember that a careless moment may last 
for generations.
Plastic is the general common term for a wide range of synthetic or semi synthetic organic amorphous solid materials suitable for the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular weight, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce costs.

The word Plastic derives from the Greek  (plastikos), “fit for moulding”, from  (plastos) “moulded”. It refers to their malleability or plasticity during manufacture that allows them to be cast, pressed, or extruded into an enormous variety of shapes – such as films, fibres, plates, tubes, bottles, boxes, and much more.
Plastic Pollution
Plastic is one of the few new chemical materials which pose environmental problem. Polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene is largely used in the manufacture of plastics.

20% of solid municipal wastes in India are plastic. Non-degradable plastics accumulate at the rate of 25 million tonnes per year. According to an estimate more than 100 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year all over the world. In India use of plastic is 3 kg per person per year
Plastic Problems
Plastics are used because they are easy and cheap to make and they can last a long time. Urbanisation has added to the plastic pollution in concentrated form in cities. Plastic does not decompose, and requires high energy ultra-violet light to break down.
Plastic thrown on land can enter into drainage lines and chokes them resulting into floods in local areas in cities as experienced in Mumbai, India in 1998. It was claimed in one of the programmes on TV Channel that eating plastic bags results in death of 100 cattle’s per day in U.P. in India. In stomach of one dead cow, as much as 35 kg of plastic was found.
More than 90% of the articles found on the sea beaches contained plastic. The plastic rubbish found on beaches near urban areas tends to originate from use on land, such as packaging material used to wrap around other goods. On remote beaches the rubbish tends to have come from ships, such as fishing equipment used in the fishing industry.

This plastic can affect marine wildlife in two important ways: by entangling creatures, and by being eaten. Aquatic animals mistake floating transparent plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them. A recent US report concluded that more than 100000 marine mammals die each year in the world’s oceans by eating or becoming entangled in plastic rubbish, and the position is worsening World-wide, 75 marine bird species are known to eat plastic articles.
Health hazards of plastic
A chemical found in plastics used in water bottles, food cans and even dental fillings, could pose a serious threat to the user’s health, researchers claim.

Research on lab animals has linked the chemical to prostate enlargement, declined testosterone, pre-cancerous breast cells, prostate cancer, changes to the genital tract, early puberty in females and hyperactivity.
It also acts as an endocrine disruptor meaning it can interfere with the hormone system.
Precautions
“Ideally, the best methods of reuse are ways that will keep these plastics out of the landfill the longest.”
Plastic water and soft drink bottles are sold with the intention of single use, then recycling, they can be safely reused if cleaned and handled properly. The keys are to ensure that the bottle is not damaged, has been thoroughly cleaned before each use, and is filled with clean tap water.
Different ways to reuse the plastic bags:
Use them to dust off out-of-season on shoes or seasonal articles.
Use the bags as gloves to clean dustbins, or using pesticides.
When packing a suitcase, use them to keep shoes from soiling clothes and dirty things from clean ones.
To protect small outdoor plants from rain or frost at night, cover them with bags and tie the handles tightly around the pots. Be sure to take the bags off in the morning.
Use as a barrier between you and your trash: for those with infrequent trash pickups, use as an extra layer for strong smelling kitchen waste. Or replace trash bags: use for the bathroom, the car, or even to replace kitchen trash bags.
Use as over dirty shoes to avoid tracking mud, or to put over shoes while doing gardening.
Ask stores if they will take the bags back. Encourage your local retailer to do the same.
For those who are interested in something a little bit more long lasting, consider learning how to craft with plastic bags, like carpet, shopping bags.

Reuse of Plastic Container
Clean plastic food containers make great toys for your child/children.
Use plastic food containers to store leftovers in the freezer.
They could be used as great lunch containers in kids’ school lunches.
Use as drawer organizers. They can round up jewellery, extra buttons, bobby pins, safety pins, and business cards, whatever you’ve got.
Can be use as wrapping gift items / parcels.
Can be modified to make pots for starting seedlings.
Bigger containers work well to hold food scraps or dustbins.
Small and medium sized plastic containers are great for travel containers for your homemade baby food and snacks.

Best Practice
Start saying NO to carry bag when you can carry things in your hand
Don’t forget to carry a cloth bag from home when you are heading for a purchase
Keep a set of bags always in your bike/car
Avoid packing goods in multiple plastics which can packed in a single
You can use thick/black plastic which can be recycled
Recycle a carry bag for at least 10 times before you throw
Conclusion
“It is better to be safe than sorry”. So a better idea will be to avoid this plastic as far as we possibly can.
These bags should be re-used as many times as possible to avoid entering the waste stream, but ultimately avoiding plastics all together is crucial to reduce our footprint on this earth. Until it becomes second nature, REUSE is MUST.
If we neglect this today, our tomorrow might be in a problem. Realise the importance of using less plastics
Make it a Habit and a Rule
…One person can save at least 15 plastics in a week…

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