Nowadays, whenever I take a walk on the streets, I see baskets full of disposable utensils from take-outs. Plastics have become an indispensable part of our lives. It is all around us: from big machines like a refrigerator to small plastic bags from bodegas. Human beings are so used to plastics being around that we tend to forget how harmful they are to our planet. Plastics are by far the best invention that facilitated modern life’s consumerism, making our lives incredibly convenient, but evidently detrimental to our ecosystem. Compared to the comfort it gives us, plastic’s environmental harm is condemnable.
Despite the reuse-reduce-recycle campaign’s effort, the annually wasted amount of plastics is at least double the amount of recycled. Currently, tons of plastics are floating on the ocean and continuing to contaminate the ecosystem. Simultaneously, the lives of marine animals are endangered. When ecologists dissected dead sea turtles for examination, nothing but plastic-trash left remained; turtles have mistaken and ingested plastics as their food source. In addition to habitats being destroyed, it takes more than 450 years to fully decompose the plastic. Made with carbon and oil, plastics originate from nature but will never return to where it came from.
Modern days’ promotion of the fast, easy, and convenient lifestyle hence is full of gimmicks. Only used for ten minutes before they are discarded, plastic bags are a result of humans’ exploitation of nature. However, we have to realize that the world does not exist merely for our convenience. Even though it may be easy momentarily, we must consider our future generations and realize that plastics should not be welcomed in our community. Like Uncle Ben from the movie Spiderman says, “with great power comes with great responsibility.” Human beings—the most powerful species with the greatest influence on Earth—need to save the nature that is saturated with pollution.
Millions of tons of plastic waste sit in landfills, wasting huge amounts of our planet’s valuable resources through production to combustion. Potential of leak pollutants, threats on marine lives’ health, and ultimate destructions of our ecosystem are just some of the effects of plastics. Quite obviously, environmental pollution is not a distant problem but one that needs immediate attention. Therefore, each trivial decision we make everyday matters: we need to be constantly aware of our environment. By reducing our use of plastics and reusing and recycling whenever possible, we can clean up the environment little by little.
Featured Image is of the Los Angeles River (via Bill McDonald, Algalita Foundation / Heal The Bay)