Plastic is one of the single most harmful things ever created. Once it was used as something for simple convenience, now it’s one of the worlds biggest problems. This issue is not exclusive to only the land either. Plastic has had a huge negative impact in our oceans. Even as this essay is being written, trash is finding its way into the shores, everywhere across the globe. Can it be stopped? the answer to this question is quite complicated, it would take a workload, that can last years, decades even. It should not have come to this, technology of today, is very advanced. We only began seeing this issue in recent decades, plastic has not existed very long, but its impacts, will last generations if nothing is done to stop it.
Trying to remove this waste would be very difficult, it’s a start, but it will not stop the actual issue because it will become a repeatable cycle that will keep happening. Next to removing the waste out of the ocean, is stopping the production of plastic as a whole, and using all existing plastic, and finally use that to recycle. The sad reality of when items say that they are made from other recyclable items, it only pertains to a very small fraction, sometimes even less than 30%. Meaning the remainder of it, is made up of more new plastic, that people will throw away anyway and end up in landfills and oceans. Adding on to removing the waste, a step in the right direction, is using biodegradable materials. Of course, not everything can or should be completely biodegradable because that can cause other issues. That is where reusable comes into play.
In recent years with everything going on, and we all are learning more about pollutants and rapid climate change, we are going in the right direction. At the same time, we have also been seeing more waste, traveling, due to online shopping, and home delivery. Most packaging as a whole, is sadly just thrown away, and careless people do throw certain stuff in the ocean. In recent years, we have seen plastic bottles, old chip bags, and other throwaway plastics, that are 30-40 years old wash up on shores of beaches. They do not degrade. This poses a tremendous threat to the marine environment. According to the National Geographic, there are over five trillion pieces of plastic debris in the Ocean. This was estimated over seven years ago, this number is most likely much higher.
We have the solutions to help this issue, and the answers to correct this issue. Then why haven’t we? We know it’s an issue, why is there nothing being done? The answer is politics and mega corporations. This and the fact that most people are not educated enough on the topic because they are unaware how much it affects them, or they can only do so much to contribute to the solution, because these mega corporations, own the industry. Sadly, all we can do in the meantime is buying reusable items and finding ways to create more biodegradable options. Over the years, I have stumbled on some amazing examples of doing this. An option that all grocery stores should be using, is refillable machines. It eliminates useless packaging completely, and you just pay by the pound, or the quantity of the item. I have never seen it done this way, but it should also be used for candy bars, cookies, and even like drink machines. Like how fast-food establishments have drink areas, grocery stores should have these too, where you pay for amount you are refilling. Like small sized, liters, and small glass bottles, similar to how six packs come.
More examples include, produce. Sadly, in many places, fruits and vegetables are wrapped in plastic, which looks very unappealing. A solution that I have seen in some markets Mexico, and some parts of Europe, is produce is often wrapped up in a large banana leaf, which makes it look appetizing opposed, to plastic. The biggest issue we have is that there are too many items that have excessive plastic when it does not need to be that way. Using plastic is also not a complete bad thing. Reusable bags, and food containers are sometimes made from plastic, and these same containers, although they are plastic, they can be reused for many years. We have all the answers to these large-scale issues we are facing, all we have left to do, is convince people in power, and fight these mega corporations, that we are serious about enforcing these new changes regarding packaging waste, and working on keeping it our oceans, and removing the waste, that is already there.
Essay by: Jacob Wong