Anyone who has ever shopped in a grocery store has been asked that question, but have you ever really thought about why it matters?
I was watching a TV show recently where they were discussing pollution. It made me very angry.
The topic of the show was about how even in the most remote locations on the planet there are few, if any, remaining pristine areas due to trash left behind in other parts of the world.
The trash makes it’s way from all parts of the world into areas where humans don’t tread. Specifically, the show was about plastics, of all shapes and sizes, which find their way into these locations in the middle of nowhere.
These plastics also find there way into the stomachs of birds and fish.
Plastic takes thousands of years to degrade. In the meantime, it partially degrades into what are known as microplastics. Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic which fish and birds mistake as food.
They eat the plastic, then they often die.
When scientists examine the stomach contents of those affected, they find them filled with various plastic items which can’t be digested.
Why should we care?
While the trash has been compiling for many years, only recently have scientists figured out consuming plastic is bad (duh). Humans eat the fish who have been consuming plastics. In turn humans are then consuming trace amounts of plastics.
If you think you’re safe because you don’t eat fish, you’re wrong.
Microplastics leech into our water from bottles. Foods wrapped in plastic have trace residue. Microplastics are in household dust, in toys, carpets, clothes, and well, everything that’s made of plastic…
It’s in everything in our lives, and inside YOU.
Nobody really knows whats going to happen to humans who consume plastic. It could be cancer, fertility issues or even death. Maybe it’s mutating the insides of humans. Whatever the effects, it’s not healthy. And it’s not right.
The TV show made me angry because humans are so incredibly careless it’s disgusting. There is nowhere left for humans to go on the planet where the effects of pollution aren’t seen or felt, including our own homes.
We can’t escape the effects of human stupidity.
Only about 9% of all the plastic ever produced between 1950 and 2015 have been recycled. While we’re trying to make things better, more than half all plastic is still thrown in the trash. This trash pollutes rivers, lakes, streams and eventually the ocean and everything else in our lives.
Millions of people still don’t recycle, despite knowing the effects of not doing so.
While it may be inconvenient to not have a straw at your favorite coffee shop or restaurant, there is good reason for it. The same goes for plastic bags. It’s habit we all have to break ourselves of.
This is just the tip of the iceberg though.
Everybody needs to reduce their dependence of plastics. One person probably can’t make a huge difference in the world, but if everyone contributes, there will be change.
The next time someone asks “paper or plastic”, think about what was mentioned here. Choose paper. If you insist on using plastic bags still, use them again. Recycle them in some way. Just don’t toss them in the trash.
Minimize your use of plastics in all forms.
There is so much more to this topic than what I can write about here. I invite you to do some reading on the effects of plastic pollution. Maybe if you get angry like I did, we can spread the knowledge and save a bird or a fish (and maybe a human too) in the process.
In the meantime, please recycle.
Marty is a freelance writer based in Kansas City