Is Your Plastic Really In The Trash?

The creation of mass-produced plastic changed the ways of society but was the positive outcome for the human population worth the massive harm towards the environment? Plastic is present across the world in varying sizes; many are the size of a grain of rice, which is less than 5mm. As of 2019, 90% of the plastic in the ocean came from 10 rivers from across the world; 8 out of 10 of the rivers were in Asia. Plastic that has been removed from the ocean contained HDPE (high density polyethylene), LDPE (low density polyethylene) and PP (polypropylene); these chemicals are normally found in household items such as milk jugs and plastic bags. What may appear to not be a “big deal” to people may be life changing to animals. Some consequences from plastic are suffocation and sickness due to the chemicals. One animal group that has experienced a negative outcome are the seabirds.

As indicator species for the ocean, seabirds have a high importance. Overall, there are 350 species of seabirds. Life is lived on both land and sea with the sea being a major part of the birds’ life. Each year, plastic ends up in their environment and has affected different areas of their life cycle. Plastic has mistakenly been used for food. The ingestion affects both adults and chicks. In adults, there have been signs of increased cholesterol and uric acid while chicks were born with lower body masses and/or wing lengths.

To prevent any further harm to seabirds and other organisms, plastic usage will need to be redesigned. Different nations have taken steps to help create more sustainability. Over 60 nations have created bans and taxes to aid in the reduction of single-use products. For Europe specifically, as it pertains to European beaches, the top 10 of the single-use plastics that are found have been banned by the European parliament. Finally, visitors are no longer allowed to bring single-use plastics to Peru's national and cultural protected areas or the national museums. With the increase in awareness for the environment, sustainability will become the new norm which will help with the extensive damage that has been done so far.

By Kyra Bassett Marketing Intern AMLY Sustainability

July, 16 2021

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