In 2019, India recorded 9.42 million tonnes of plastic waste. In 2021, you can only expect this figure to cross all boundaries considering the pandemic that has fallen upon all of us and has contributed to record breaking amounts of medical waste.
A very big contribution to this plastic waste problem is done by the single use packaging that all colossal companies consider their saviour. Plastic packaging material is of little to no use once the product inside is used and so reusing is no option here. The only option that single-use packaging leaves us with is dumping. Blinded by their little costs and convenient uses, the mega-brands ignore to see the environmental impact every single, single-use plastic-packaged product is causing. Considering that all the small brands follow the market leaders, we are now living in a plastic-led life. All small brands follow the same wasteful steps of these leaders. General awareness of our actions is lacking in our society and this just takes us further away from our hopes of a non-toxic environment.
How is single use packaging harming human beings?
There is growing evidence that contamination through plastic can be harmful for a human being in many ways. Many foods are being packaged in risky and toxic plastic packaging; meat, cheese and even fruits and vegetables. Even though plastic is not as big a problem here, it largely depends on polymer molecules from which it is made. Plastics like Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) which is used in making of cling wraps, soft drink bottles, sandwich wraps contain plasticizers such as DEHA and phthalates that can leach into the food, making it toxic and Polystyrene which is used in making cutlery, coffee/drinking cups and trays used by supermarkets for packaging veggies contain styrene monomer which is moderately toxic for human body. In addition, BPA is a very famous plastic content used in food containers and bottles and is famously known to cause a very dangerous impact on the body’s hormonal balance, prostate and fetus problems and is highly fatal towards infants and kids.
How is single use packaging harming animals?
Unfortunately, our animals are suffering the most from our actions. These innocent souls are just trying to exist and human beings have created an atmosphere of misery for them even in their own homes. Animals are not able to tell the difference between plastic and food and it is easier for them to be fooled by plastic as food. 100 million marine animals die of plastic waste each year. 75% of all fish in the Nile river are found to have traces of micro-plastic in them. An alarming rate of 2000 species of animals belonging to marine life, land and even air are known to be results of a plastic death and this number is constantly on the rise. Some get stuck or entangled in plastic and end up dying or amputing themselves. An estimated number of 100000 marine animals die each year from getting stuck in plastic alone.
Statistical News and facts of real life incidents related to plastic deaths in animals: -
- It is found that 50% of sea Turtles eat plastic and 50 to 80% of all Dead Sea Turtles have been found with plastic inside of them.
- An endangered turtle was saved by removing a 30cm plastic bag from its digestive system
- In 2018 a pilot whale was found barely alive because it had 80 kg of plastic bags inside of it.
- 2006 sperm whale was found dead across the shores of Greece with 100 plastic shopping bags in its stomach.
- 98% of all albatrosses have ingested plastic and 40% of their chicks die when they are fed by these birds due to it being plastic content.
- Plastic bags have become the result of half of all the Camels who die in the Arabian Peninsula every year.
- In 2016, eight elephants in Zimbabwe died due to consuming plastic bread bags.
These are only a few incidents out of a million incidents that take place every year. This sad reality is becoming a nightmare for animals everywhere. Awareness on such topics is necessary because buying a plastic water bottle for very cheap from a street vendor on a hot day may seem like a viable and convenient option for us, for animals, it is life threatening. Animals are dying at a heavy rate every year and it is all for the little decisions that we’re conveniently ignoring.
In today's time when plastic is so heavily used by humans, It has already entered the food chain. Due to the heavy use of plastic, ending up in landfills and in oceans, it is being consumed by the cattle, birds, marine life and has become a part of their body in the form of microplastics. Since there is a quite established food chain existing in nature, these microplastics, along with their toxic chemicals have become an integral part of the system. Billions of animals and human beings at this stage are affected by plastics in their body.
We need to be more collectively aware of our everyday plastic consumption. The only need is: -
- To be educated as to what kind of plastic can be recycled and purchase only that for your needs.
- To buy plastic packaged goods only when you need.
- To be vocal about not buying plastic packaging or plastic-packaged products.
- To spread awareness at your ends about the evils of plastic-packaging.