Day by day the amount of plastic that we distribute to the environment is getting bigger and the result of this heavy disposal of plastics is really tragic. Plastic products have become an essential good in our daily lives and it has been found that above 300 million tons of plastics are consumed each year in the world. These statics are mere proofs of our inconsiderate behavior towards nature as these products mostly end up in garbage pits and the worse thing is that they won’t decay easily.
If you just take a walk around your home or especially, if you walk along a beach, you will see how tragic is our addiction to plastics. You will see several bottles, cans, bags, lids, and straws covering up the whole beach side. People do not only consume plastics in heaps but also throw them everywhere once these things are used and because of this day by day many endangered and valuable species of animals, as well as plants, are getting disappeared from the earth and if we do not pay enough attention to this problem, soon humans will have to suffer because of their own actions.
You will see often animal carcasses in beaches because of this improper disposal of plastic as many animals consume them mistaking them to be foods and finally die by indigestion or by becoming entangled in them. people are acting as if they are not aware of this disaster and it is questionable whether they think this pollution is still occurring at the microscopic level.
According to a study conducted by Plymouth University, plastic pollution affects at least 700 marine species and there are some other studies which say at least 100 million marine mammals are killed each year from plastic pollution. So, if we do not pay attention to this vital issue, even at this moment, then there will surely be a huge disaster in near future.
Here are some of the marine species who are deeply affected by plastic pollution.
1. Sea turtles
Like many other animals, sea turtles also consume plastic products mistaking them to be a viable food source and they often cause a blockage in their digestive system. Therefore, plastic pollution has become the main reason for the declining of these species.
A study done in 2013, found out that 50% of sea turtles are ingesting plastic at an unprecedented rate and dying because of it. Another study of the Loggerhead species also revealed that 15% of young turtles examined had ingested a large amount of plastic and because of that their digestive system was mostly obstructed.
2. Seals and Sea Lions
Plastic debris like fishing nets, lines and lures are very dangerous for the animals who are living in the deep sea as these animals can be entangled in these and the most pathetic condition is that these days the animals who are living in deep water are also dying by being entangled in plastic bags and packing bands.
It has been found out that Steller Sea Lion populations are very much affected by plastic packing bands and rubber bands and an eight-year study in Southeast Alaska and British Columbia documented 388 sea lions entangled in plastic debris.
Over the years, marine birds have been widely threatened by the increased use of plastics and more than any other species Laysan albatross has been deeply affected by this. These birds dive deep into the water to catch food items and they use their beak to skim the surface. So, in this process, they pick plastics and eat them thinking them to be foods.
It was found out that 98% of albatross are found having ingested some kind of plastic debris. Most of these poor birds die as a result of their digestive tract being obstructed causing a puncture in internal organs.
Fish They are at a risk to microscopic plastic debris as they inhale through gills. A study done by the University of Exeter found that microscopic marine debris could take up to six times as long for the animal to rid themselves of in comparison to ingesting the debris orally.
The biggest danger of this situation is that fish are a variety who are widely consumed by humans and number of studies suggest that the fish humans consume have at one time or another ingested plastic microfibers including brown trout, cisco, and perch.
5. Whales and Dolphins
As whale’s mouth are wide they are likely to consume plastic debris unknowingly and necropsies performed after numerous whale stranding saw an increase in the amount of plastic debris found.
In past two decades, hundreds of species of cetaceans have been impacted by plastic pollution and most of these creatures die as a result of the puncturing and tearing the stomach lining which leads them to starve and die. According to too Marine Pollution Bulletin, cetaceans are ingesting plastic debris at a rate as high as 31% and in turn, 22% of those cetaceans were at a risk of death.
What can we do?
We do not want any other proof to show how much nature is affected by plastic pollution. Sometimes, we may dispose of our plastic here and there thinking that we do not have any effect of that, but the truth is that once the balance of the ecosystem is lost, we will have to suffer from our actions and therefore, from this moment onwards determine to reduce the consumption of plastics and here we have few suggestions for you.
Clean up after yourself
Always keep in your mind “leave with what you came with” policy. Beach clean-ups are a great way to protect our coastline.
Always try to recycle all your garbage and you can begin the process from your home itself. If you happened to go to a pace where you cannot find a place to recycle things, then keep your trash with you until you find a proper place for disposal.
When you can: Just say no
It might not be too much easy to stay away from plastic all at once but saying no to straws, buying in bulks and bringing reusable bags for shopping are few of the many ways you can reduce the consumption of plastic.