Ever since reading the book, "An Inconvenient Truth", which was released in 2006 by Al Gore, I’ve become much more conscious of how my choices in life can affect the environment. For those of you who haven’t read the book, it is an eye-opener to the real climate change that is happening in our world backed by scientific information. But far from a boring book that’s difficult to understand, it’s a very easy read. And sadly, the reality becomes apparent that the “inconvenient truth” is realizing that we are the cause of these changes that impact all living creatures and the entire planet.
When we understand that our planet is a beautiful and precious gift to all of humanity, we should arrive at the wisdom that it is our responsibility to take care of our planet for the well being of one another, our children and for future generations to come. All actions have consequences and we need to start asking ourselves daily, "Are my choices adding to the world's pollution problem?"
GMO’s, poisonous pesticides, methane pollution from livestock and farming, landfill decay, leakage from the oil and gas industry, burning fossil fuels and clearing trees are all human origin and our actions are causing the earth to grow warmer. It seems easy to point a finger at the large corporations responsible for creating our planet’s methane problem. But another source of methane comes from plastic bags. Did you know it can take up to 1,000 years for plastic to decompose? To demand change, we have to start with each person and that means starting with you and me.
“A society full of excessive consumption and waste of food, products, etc.” - Collins English Dictionary
Today, we are living more and more in a throw-away society where convenience and instant gratification are in-demand and it's a growing addiction. Every day, we are constantly being bombarded by so much "stuff" and it's become so normal that we don't even ask ourselves where does it all come from and where will it all go? And the temptation of wanting more than we need has caused us to turn a blind eye to the truth of what a throw-away society is doing to our environment. You may be thinking, "Well, I recycle whenever I can." But have you ever wondered what happens to all the trash that more than 7 billion people throw away each day?
Up until 2018, the U.S. sold millions of tons of plastic trash to China to be recycled into new products. 70 percent of the world’s plastic trash went to China - roughly 7 million tons each year. In January of 2018, China announced a ban on all trash imports. Why did this happen? Well, a lot of the plastic they were receiving was contaminated with paper, food and plastic wrap, which couldn't be recycled. Understandably, China had concerns about all this extra trash that needed to be disposed of which was now adding to their country’s pollution. Can we blame them?
A lot of it gets shipped to other Southeast Asian countries that don’t have the capacity to recycle it or the means to dispose of it properly. Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand announced that they also plan to ban the import of plastic trash as they try to manage their own plastic pollution problem. Unfortunately, more and more plastic in the U.S. now ends up in landfills or gets incinerated which is now adding to our pollution problem. This means that a lot of the plastic we thought we could recycle is not getting recycled.
If we don't change our ways, scientists predict that by 2050, we will have more plastic by weight than fish in our oceans.
In the ocean, there are two types of plankton: zooplankton (animals) and phytoplankton (plants). Zooplankton eats the phytoplankton, small fish eat the zooplankton, larger fish eat the small fish. Decades of industry and agriculture create chemicals in our lakes, rivers, and oceans which attract to plastic like magnets and create toxins. Over time, plastic trash will break up into much smaller bits as they are eroded by sunlight, salt water, currents, and waves. These plastic pieces can become small enough, sink, and fish will confuse these small pellets of plastic for food.
When the plastic is eaten by fish, toxins are released and carried through the bloodstream, then stored in their fatty tissues. When we eat these fish, those toxins enter our bodies. These toxins have been linked with cancer, cognitive problems, infertility, and autoimmune disease. For 60 percent of the world's population, fish is a main source of protein.
Thankfully, we can help and we can all be part of the solution. This year’s World Oceans Day on June 8 is focused on creating awareness of our plastic pollution crisis and to say “NO” to plastic trash to protect our ocean and life. Since starting Milkdot, it’s always been my belief that if each person starts by making small changes, together we can make a big difference. Change begins with caring, so let's all take action to fight against single-use plastic.
If you do end up with plastic trash, always rinse it clean first, and then recycle. If you know of other ways to reduce plastic pollution, please feel free to share in the comments below!
For more information and resources, visit: worldoceansday.org
#PlasticPollution #PlasticFree #RethinkPlastic #SaveOurSeas
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