Plastic Pollution: How To Reduce The Damage Caused To The Environment By Plastic With The Help Of Bamboo
Author: Namita Trilok Chandra
Plastic Pollution is one of the biggest worries the world faces at the moment. The amount of damage caused each year by plastic is growing at an alarming rate. Every part of the environment faces adverse effects due to plastic. It is high time that we as people understand the extent of the damage and learn how we can play a part in reducing plastic pollution.
What is Plastic Pollution and its effects?
Plastic Pollution is the collection of plastic objects and materials anywhere on the Earth’s surface. This goes on to affect the wildlife and the ocean life to great extents. There is a reason why there is so much demand for plastic in the world. It is inexpensive, durable, and has varied uses. This may sound like there is nothing wrong with using plastic but what people do not understand is that plastic takes so much time to degrade and has a lot of chemicals involved in its making. So, when Plastic is accumulated there is a large chance of plastic entering the environment as mismanaged waste.
Close to 8.8 million tonnes of plastic are disposed into the oceans every year. It is also estimated that there are close to 86 million tons of plastic marine debris in the oceans. The Ocean Conservancy reported that Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines dumps more plastic in the ocean than every country in the world combined. There are more than 5 trillion plastic pieces that are floating in the sea. It is not just the aqua life that gets affected. Plastic pollution also affects human beings. The degraded waste is present in water and we even cross indirect consumption when we eat animals from the ocean.
Plastic Pollution also plays a major role in causing climate change. The incineration and production of Plastic give out greenhouse gases that level up to at least 850 million tons of carbon dioxide. Plastic waste can also clog drains and increase the risk of flood damage in a certain city or town.
What is Microplastic and where do they come from?
Microplastic is fragments of any type of plastic that are less than 5mm in length. There are two types of microplastics. One is the Primary microplastics and the other is the secondary microplastics
Primary microplastics are small pieces of plastic that are manufactured with intention. They are used a lot in the cosmetic industry and air blasting technology. When it comes to scrubbers, microplastics are used in machinery, engines, and boat hulls to remove rust and paint. Although many companies have committed to reducing the production of microbeads, there are still many bioplastic microbeads that also have a long degradation life cycle similar to normal plastic
Secondary microplastics are small pieces that are collected from the breaking down of bigger pieces of plastic. They are found both at sea and on land. The culmination of physical, biological, including photodegradation caused by sunlight exposure, can reduce the structural integrity of plastic debris to a size that is undetectable to the human eye.
The types of Plastic we Use in Our Daily Lives
Plastic products are a part of our everyday lives. Almost everything we use from the minute we get up has plastic in it. There are a few types of plastics that are majorly used in our everyday lives. They are as follows
This type of plastic is also known by its abbreviated form, PET or PETE. It is one of the most prominent types of thermoplastic resin from the polyester family. It is found in the fibers used for clothing and even in containers that are made for liquids and food
Polyester makes up about 18% of world polymer production and is the fourth-most-produced polymer.
PET is also used to make bottles for carbonated drinks and even as a 3D printing filament.
HDPE or also known as PEHD is a thermoplastic polymer that is produced from ethylene
This type of plastic is known for its durability.
It is used as backpacking frames, bottle caps, to make boats. It is also found in fireworks and food storage containers. This type of plastic is seen in even household items like shampoo bottles, plastic bags, and milk jugs as well.
LDPE is another type of thermoplastic that is made from the monomer ethylene.
LDPE is used in the manufacturing of containers, dispensing bottles, wash bottles, tubing, plastic parts for computers as well.
Polypropylene is also known as polypropene. It is produced through a chain-growth polymerization from propylene.
The most common use of this type of plastic is seen in the making of the lids to candy boxes such as Tic-tac. It is also used due to its capability of resisting corrosion and chemical leaching. PP is also found in the making of plastic chairs.
This is a synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon plastic made from styrene. This plastic can come out as solid as well as foam. It is one of the most widely used plastics in the world. It is said that there are over a million tons per year produced.
it is used in the packing peanuts and in the cases used for storage of optical discs such as CDs and occasionally DVDs containers, lids, bottles, trays, tumblers, disposable cutlery, and in the making of models.
EPS or Expanded Polystyrene is a light weighted type of plastic that is made from expanded polystyrene beads. This foam is said to have 95% air and 5% plastic.
These foams have found their place in a variety of applications due to their thermal insulation, damping properties, and weight.
EPS is used in building materials and even as white foam packaging.
It is also found in the manufacturing of sliders, model planes, and even surfboards because of its durability and lightweight. It also has shock-absorbing properties.
How to reduce plastic pollution?
Ninety percent of the plastic items in our daily lives are used once and then thrown away. We as citizens must be educated as to how we can play a part in reducing plastic pollution around the world.
As the saying goes, it is important to take the first step at home. Say no to plastic straws. Animals especially in the ocean tend to eat straws and even a small bit can make them extremely sick, thus affecting the environment.
Get a reusable water bottle. One million plastic drink bottles are sold in the world every minute. After consumption people just tend to throw it away without understanding how bad it is for the environment.
Avoid plastic bags when you go shopping. This is something everyone can follow. It is not difficult to carry your bag every time you go to a store. It is also important to shop in bulk. When a group of people shops for snacks and cereals in bulk it reduces the amount of packaging required thus reducing the use of plastic.
Stop littering and start recycling. It is important to never let plastic be thrown around in the environment. It is very beneficial to follow the re-use and recycle theory. The plastic waste that is littered on the ground makes its way to oceans through rivers and ponds thus affecting the ocean eco-system.
Another step people can take are beach clean-ups or park clean-ups. As fun as it is, it also helps the environment. It does not mean that in one clean-up the whole land will be free of plastic but it sure is a step to a greener environment.
Bamboo: The Perfect Replacement for Plastic based products
Bamboo is one of the most beneficial plants to the environment. This wonderful plant from the grass family is durable, sustainable, biodegradable, and gives an amazing look to the products made from it.
Bamboo Products have to be promoted over plastic products. It is important people have awareness of how useful a bamboo-based product can be. Various bamboo-based items can be used to reduce the use of plastic.
Plastic toothbrushes can be replaced by bamboo toothbrushes. Everyone is recommended to change their toothbrushes every 3 months. After a person changes his toothbrush, he tends to throw away the old one, thus leading it to become plastic waste. Instead, if he used a bamboo toothbrush even when it came to replacement time, the bamboo disposed into the environment will not be harmful
Bamboo straws and Bamboo travel cups are wonderful examples of bamboo-based products that can be used instead of plastic. Throw away that plastic straw right now and get a bamboo one. It looks great and you’re playing a part in helping the environment.
There are so many other products like water bottles, chopping boards, make-up brush sets, and even cutlery made out of bamboo. Using these will be much better than depending on Plastic that does not even look great and is also bad for the environment. Say no to plastic and yes to Bamboo.