The use of single-use plastic is directly associated with climate change, and plastics contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Whether it is production, refining, or waste management, the lifecycle of plastic contributes to environmental hazard in devious ways. There is little awareness about the environmental hazards of plastics, and the ubiquitous use of plastics continues to affect the environment alarmingly.
Single-use plastics, as furnished in the 2018 U.N. Environment, refer to plastic components meant to be used only once before they are disposed or recycled. Some of the most widely used single-use plastics include cigarette butts, plastic bottles, plastic caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, straws and stirrers, etc. Single-use plastics represent everything that is wrong with the throwaway culture. Apparently, only nine per cent of the world’s plastic content is recycled, while the majority of these plastics land up in landfills and water bodies. The most hazardous aspect of plastic is it’s not biodegradable, and it disintegrates into finer particles or microplastics.
Plastics pollute our environment in a myriad of ways. Plastics take thousands of years to decompose, and it affects soil and water adversely throughout its lifecycle. The toxins present in plastics are eventually transmitted to animal tissues and interfere with the existing food chain. Plastics billowing across the streets can harm wildlife: animals often feed on these substances and choke their systems. Plastics that end up in water bodies threaten aquatic creatures.
It is therefore important to cultivate a habit to stop single use plastic and switch over to reusable alternatives such as stainless steel straws, eco friendly collapsible lunch box and coffee cup.
Other new products such as bamboo straws and wheat cutlery sets are a way to kick start as well.