Plastic Pollution

The problem of plastic pollution is becoming more serious by the day. Consider the following facts:

—Between 4 and 12 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year.

—That amount is projected to triple in the next twenty years.

—Plastics are forever. Instead of deteriorating, plastic debris breaks down into ever-smaller particles, known as microplastics.

—Only nine percent of the global plastic waste is recycled.

—Every third fish caught and consumed by humans contains plastic.

—People eat five grams of micro and nanoplastics every week.

How dangerous is the consumption of plastics? I have not been able to find a specific answer to that question. But we do know that plastic products contain chemical additives. A number of these chemicals have been associated with serious health problems such as hormone-related cancers, infertility, and neurodevelopment disorders like ADHD and autism.

In short, the threat is serious. It’s time to take positive steps to reduce the amount of plastic we produce. Use of paper bags is a major step in the right direction. Replacing plastic tableware with paper and cardboard is an obvious solution. Increasing the recycling of plastic could be a major help in reducing plastic waste.

As with so many other threats to the planet—e.g., global warming and gun deaths—we tend to dodder. To the degree that we want to survive as a species, we’d better get started with effective action soon.

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