World Environment Day : Moving towards a plastic-free future

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When plastic first became mainstream in the 1940s and 1950s, it was hailed as a stroke of manufacturing genius. From there, it wormed its way into nearly every facet of our consumer lives. Now, some seventy years later, even those initial plastic specimens remain intact, and we’re challenged with managing the growing mountains of plastic debris that refuse to biodegrade.

The U.S. alone produces a staggering 32 million tons of plastic waste every year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and only a fraction of that is ever recycled. Instead, most of it – 8.8 million tons per year, on average – ends up in the ocean. As a result, we are the master creators of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a body of plastic-heavy trash that stretches for hundreds of miles (and growing), and the earth’s varied sea life is suffering greatly because of it. More than 800 marine species are currently threatened by our obsession with this versatile material, as beautiful creatures like sea turtles, fish, seals, birds, and more, routinely eat and become caught in this everlasting substance, which can severely restrict their ability to live normal lives and often leads to starvation.

Plastic can take many forms – from product packaging to microbeads in beauty products to that sweet doll you recently bought your niece for her birthday – and, of course, all of that gets placed in “disposable” plastic bags when we take it home from the store. In reality, they’re not really disposable at all. They last indefinitely, and in addition to polluting the oceans, those plastic bags make up the bulk of land-based litter. In fact, they’ve become such a menace that cities, and even states like California, are legislating widespread bans against their use. But not everyone in the public realm is happy about this, and many are resistant to foregoing the many conveniences the plastic allows.

That’s why we are thrilled to learn about Biowear’s Avani Eco Bags, which are made from cassava root and all natural resins. They are biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable, and they even dissolve in hot water (watch the video above ). For those unable to live plastic-free, Avani Eco Bags provide a viable, sustainable alternative that helps to minimize plastic pollution, improve the environment, and protect marine species.

Plastic, which is rampantly polluting our water bodies, harming marine life and posing a threat to human health, has been one of the major concerns of environmental bodies this year. Though a large part of the population depends on plastic for their daily use, nearly one-third of it is not disposed off properly and ends up clogging drains and choking the environment. Plastic can persist in the environment for nearly a thousand years before it fully disintegrates and keeping this in mind, many organisations and governments are always on the lookout for alternatives to tackle this menace.

Through this day, UN is making an effort to urge governments, industries, communities and people to unite in the fight against plastic and explore alternatives that are sustainable.

With plastic making up ten per cent of the total waste generated, half of it used is disposable or single-use. This presents a major problem as it is non-renewable and its manufacture and destruction exposes individuals and environment to many toxins, including carcinogens.

World Environment Day is a call for awakening of individuals to take charge of protecting their environment and to realise the severity of plastic usage in daily life.

 

Arinze A