Michéle du Plessis
On April 22nd, Earth Day will be celebrated all over the world. This is the world’s largest environmental movement and the campaign for 2018 is to end plastic pollution. The 50th Earth Day will be celebrated in 2020.
“From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet. In response, Earth Day 2018 is dedicated to providing the information and inspiration needed to fundamentally change human attitude and behaviour about plastics.” https://www.earthday.org/
Plastic pollution in the environment affects wildlife and their habitats – land, waterways, oceans- and humans. As plastic production is inexpensive and durable, the levels of production are very high. But, the chemical structure of plastic makes it resistant to degradation. Sea creatures get entangled, land animals ingest plastic and hormonal disruptions can occur in humans.
Chlorinated plastics can release harmful chemicals into the soil, which can seep into groundwater and that can cause series harm to those that drink it. Landfill areas contain many different types of plastic and as microorganism breakdown of biodegradable plastics, methane is released. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming.
The Marine Conservancy has predicted the decomposition rates of several plastic products: a foam plastic cup will take 50 years, a plastic beverage holder will take 400 years, a disposable nappy will take 450 years, and fishing line will take 600 years to degrade. Toxins that are components of plastic include diethylhexyl phthalate, which is a toxic carcinogen, as well as lead, cadmium, and mercury. Humans ingest these toxic carcinogens and chemicals through the fish and shellfish and may cause an increase in cancer, immune disorders, and birth defects.
“A 2017 study found that 83% of tap water samples taken around the world contained plastic pollutants. This means that people may be ingesting between 3,000 and 4,000 micro particles of plastic from tap water per year. It is currently unclear if this contamination is affecting human health, but if the water is also found to contain Nano-particle pollutants, there could be adverse impacts on human well-being, according to scientists associated with the study.” Wikipedia
“Plastic pollution is one of the most important environmental problems that we face today. It impacts the environment and our health and wellbeing. We have all contributed to this problem – mostly unknowingly – and we must work to reduce and ultimately to End Plastic Pollution. Earth Day Network is committed to proactively be part of the solution and has created this Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkit to support anyone who wants to contribute too.”
Download your toolkit from the earth day website. In this edition, an article written by Richard Quinnell on plastic recycling is a must read.