Less than 30% of the 25,000 tons of plastics generated each year in Europe are recyclable. Of the 75% of plastics produced that become waste, only 9% are recycled. Moreover, very often the waste ends up in the oceans. This means that we could find more plastic waste than fish in the oceans by 2025 if things don’t change.
The consequences of plastic on the planet
First of all, plastic is a material that takes a long time to decompose. It can take up to 450 years. When it does, it releases elements that are toxic to all food chains (chemical particles called “micro plastics”). The creation of plastic requires the extraction and transportation of fossil raw materials, releasing chemical and toxic substances into the atmosphere, water and soil.
It is the leading cause of marine pollution, affecting mainly marine animals (for example, sea turtles choking on plastic bags thinking they are jellyfish, and mammals disappearing because they have an empty stomach due to the plastic bags taking up all the space in their stomachs).
Approximately one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year from plastic ingestion around the world. Second of all, the visual effect of plastic bags is not good-looking in the wilderness; it is not pleasant to swim in a water surrounded by plastic. It is a very important source of water contamination and also a source of transport of invasive species which unbalances ecosystems.
Finally, it has an impact on humans; micro-plastics are consumed by the animals we eat afterwards (for instance fish). Moreover, it infiltrates the human body by inhalation, ingestion or direct contact which has an impact on the immune and respiratory systems. It can also lead to endocrine disruption, reduced fertility, increased risk of cancer, etc.
Alternatives to plastic or how to avoid it as much as possible
In the first place, you must be aware of the risks of plastic and learn about its components. Then, you should use a minimum of plastic at home but also at work. You must recycle the little plastic that you use (it is a good option to have a suitable waste bin) and avoid frozen items and chewing gums. Moreover, companies should reduce their production of plastics, and install cardboard cups for coffee machines, or mugs for their employees. Besides, the state should set up water fountains in all public places (schools, companies, museums…). This will avoid the purchase of bottled water and encourage people to bring a water bottle with them.
Furthermore, we should ban everywhere in the world plastic straws, cups, glasses and disposable plastic plates , or as a beginning, introduce a tax on the use of straws, plastic bags and cutlery.
When going shopping, customers must take their own containers for their groceries (bulk grocery stores are preferred), and plastic bags of cactus (which decomposes after a few weeks) or banana leaves should be introduced in supermarkets. Finally, it is necessary to choose matches rather than a lighter. Also, do not throw your cigarette butts out the window but use a pocket ashtray instead. We should replace single-use items by reusable or biodegradable items, for example cottons.
We are a very attractive Island, many tourists come every year and we want to make a good impression of ourselves. That is why we invite you to read carefully our advices about the alternatives of plastic and to find some of your own ones. Also, be careful of collecting your garbage carefully after going to the beach for a picnic for example. Finally, don’t forget to raise awareness in your environment.