By now, most of us have heard that 'plastic is bad'. But why is plastic bad? It was found that over 700 species, including sea turtles and fish are either eating plastic or being tangled into single-use plastic bags. Within plastics, single-use plastic poses a particular risk. Single-use plastics include straws, plastic grocery bags, take aways containers, etc. And although we think that the plastic is being recycled, it turns out that approximately 90% of plastic is not being recycled at all. The plastic instead break downs in smaller and smaller pieces until it becomes into microplastic. These hard to detect microplastics can then be eaten by zooplankton and small fish, which then can be eaten by larger fish. These larger fish are then commercially sold for human consumption and we end up eating the microplastics.
It was found that humans can consume, on average, about 5 grams of microplastics every week. The consumed microplastics can alter the gut microbiome composition and these changes can cause medical conditions such as obesity and chronic liver disease. Over one's lifetime, humans can consume approximately 40 pounds of plastic, and I find this disgusting. To know how bad plastic is and to still not see strong global action being taken against the use and production of plastic is frustrating.
It is to be noted that provinces, like BC, are now taking action like banning the use of single-use plastic grocery bags and banning the use of plastic straws. However, there will have to be global action taken in order to really see a change. I envision a future where all single-use plastic that is non compostable is banned, on a global scale. I also think there needs to be governance against companies that are still using plastic, to completely ban this use. Additionally, there should be more government funding being redirected towards finding sustainable plastic alternatives.