Reading time: 3 minutes
Plastic pollution in the oceans has been known as one of the main causes that endanger millions of marine life throughout the world.
Whales, turtles, dolphins, birds, and fish keep on perishing due to our reckless act of dumping plastics to their habitats.
Overall, eight million metric tons of plastic goes into our oceans every year.
Maybe we did not commit the heinous act ourselves but our behavior might encourage plastic pollution to continue.
Some of us are even reluctant to support the government’s campaign to eliminate the use of plastic bags.
Malaysia is No. 8
In fact, Malaysia is currently ranked eighth among the top 10 worst plastic polluters globally.
Of course, this is not an “achievement” that we all can be proud of.
For your information, most of the plastic production in Malaysia is used for packaging.
Other uses of the material include making electronic components, automotive parts, household items, and others.
Kind of scary, huh?
Plastic bags or their microparticles pose a great danger to the survival of marine life.
Unfortunate incidents involving turtles eating plastic bags mistakenly for jellyfish are not new.
Fish, seabirds, prawns, crabs, and coral can also be the victims.
Whether we realize it or not, microplastics tend to find their way into our stomachs when we eat fish, prawns, crabs or mussels.
The worst thing of all, plastics have additives which can make them last for hundreds of years.
Some experts even estimated it will take more than 400 years for plastics to disintegrate.
Certainly, once those tiny plastic particles are inside our bodies, their effects on our health can be disastrous.
Animals have been found dead with symptoms like blocked digestive tracts or pierced organs, caused by plastics they ate.
Some of them have been starved to death because their stomachs were filled by plastics, thus causing them to lose the appetite to eat.
Although it has not been medically proven yet, humans may also face the same health risks especially those who love to eat seafood.
About 50% of all plastics manufactured in the world have been produced within the last 15 years.
Besides, the production of plastics has increased almost 200 times in 65 years.
In comparison, around 2.3 million tons were produced in 1950 and the figure rose sharply to 448 million tons by 2015.
Not only that, production may double by the next 30 years.
Call for action
Clearly, we cannot wait until 2050 to find and implement solutions to the plastic pollution issue.
Humans will also feel the heat when the fish population in the oceans dwindle, thus causing less food to eat.
The solutions are quite simple yet they require strong political will and cooperation from the public.
Most importantly, we must ensure plastic waste will not enter our rivers, seas, and oceans.
To do that, we must improve the waste management system and recycling.
Product designs should also consider the aspect of disposable packaging, which has a shorter life than plastics.
Finally, all countries need to adopt policies that discourage the production and consumption of single-use plastics. – RED ANGPOW