The alteration of hormone levels.”(Le Guern Lytle) This is

The way in which society dispose of plastic whether by landfills, littering and/or incinerating, result in catastrophic outcomes that affect the environment in various ways. These outcomes expand across land, sea and air impacting each and every organism that directly or indirectly comes into contact with it. Unless these methods of discarding plastic is modified, the environment remains vulnerable to the potential dangers of plastic waste.”Around 50 percent of the plastic produced yearly is only used once before being disposed of and about 30 tons end up in the ocean every year.” (Grosenick). As plastic is regularly littered and dumped in the sea, many marine animals have succumbed to its deadly properties. As plastic decomposes “sunlight weakens the materials, causing fragmentation into particles,”(Geyer, Jambeck, Law). this is known as microplastics. Large pieces of plastic as well as microplastics “… are taken up by marine organisms through ingestion and… are suspected to transfer harmful substances to body tissues…”( Beer, Garm, Huwer, Dierking, Torkel, Nielsen). Consequently, this leads to “…suffocation, starvation, or a slow death as the harmful chemicals in plastic slowly destroy an animal’s organs.” (Grosenick). The feeling of repletion caused by the incorrect disposal of plastic waste leads animals to presume that they are being filled by what they digest. However, this form of starvation further drives them to the brink of extinction or endangerment and could severely disrupt the food chain. Moreover, toxins such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are absorbed by plastic and “can lead to reproductive disorders, death, an increased risk of disease, and an alteration of hormone levels.”(Le Guern Lytle) This is specifically evident in ” the masculinisation of female polar bears and spontaneous abortions and declines in seal populations.”  (Le Guern Lytle).Similarly, another chemical released as plastic decomposes is called “Bisphenol A (BPA) which has been…proven to interfere with the reproductive systems of animals.” (Le Guern Lytle). Overall, the inconsistencies among the animals reproductive rates can gradually stifle the species ability to maintain a secure enough population that is not a threat to their existence. Besides the physical and chemical attributes of plastic debris expediting the death toll of marine life, there is evidence that suggests aromatic components can further induce harm. Forage fish play an integral role in the food chain since they are a “… major food resource for a variety of predators, channeling energy from their plankton prey to higher trophic levels” ( Beer, Garm, Huwer, Dierking, Torkel, Nielsen). Nevertheless, the odors emitted from plastic decomposition, “…has been demonstrated to retard activity levels and negatively influence schooling behaviour.” (Savoca, Tyson, McGill, Slager). Thus, igniting a sense of predation. In other words as the forage fish detect the smell of  certain plastic a feeling of aggression is aroused and what was once the prey now becomes the predator. This odor attracts these fishes ” into regions of high plastic density, thus making it difficult to ignore or reject plastic items as potential prey.”(Savoca, Tyson, McGill, Slager). As sea birds and larger fish feed on them they “… ingest the plastics along with the prey, setting the potential for harm to reverberate through the ecosystem.” (Ng). With the great possibility of these animals transferring toxic chemicals to marine fish and livestock intended for humans much concern has emerged. “… forage fish catches are nowadays used for the production of fishmeal which is then used as fodder in aquaculture and terrestrial livestock industries e.g. as chicken feed.”( Beer, Garm, Huwer, Dierking, Torkel, Nielsen). As toxicity disperse throughout the food chain each organism absorbs the lethal effects of plastic waste decaying within the ocean.As the amount of plastic waste accumulates, it rapidly infiltrates the Ocean and generates a massive pile up of garbage. Oceanographer Charles Moore discovered what is now known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch–an area heavily littered with floating plastic debris. (Ng). These debris create “conditions… which marine organisms possibly move into new environments,” (Vanrykel1, Krzyk). According to “biodiversity is defined as “the different kinds of living organisms within a given area,” and the presence of  ” these non-domestic species are one of the greatest causes of the loss of biodiversity.” (Vanrykel1, Krzyk) This poses a threat to the environment mainly because the “plastic debris which floats on the oceans, acts as rafts for small sea creatures to grow and travel on…the organisms have plenty of time to adapt to different water and climatic conditions” (Le Guern Lytle). More specifically, as the alien species reside in foreign habitats they can pose a danger to the existing native species. Hence, these environments are at risk because the loss of biodiversity equates to an ecological imbalance. One of the most common uses of plastic is in the form of plastic bags however, the way in which they are discarded negatively impact the environment in multiple ways. “…only 14% (by mass) of plastic packaging materials produced…was collected for recycling, while 72% entered landfills or was otherwise released into the environment.”(Yokota, Waterfield, Hastings, Davidson, Kwietniewski, Wells). A plastic bag”…can last up to 1000 years, inhibiting the breakdown of biodegradable materials around or in it,”(Ansari, Chavan, Husain). Hence, landfills are not the best way to get rid of them. When plastic bags are sent to landfills ” the bags leach dangerous chemicals into the groundwater, polluting potential drinking water and polluting water before it reaches the ocean.”(Grosenick). This chemical is known as leachate. Secondly, littering plastic in public have been credited with numerous animal fatalities. “when a bird or mammal dies … and subsequently decomposes, the plastic bag will again be released into the environment to be ingested by another animal.”(Ansari, Chavan, Husain). Thus, demonstrating a repetitive cycle that further extinguishes numerous species. Plants are affected in a similar way since “Plastic bags…hurt coastal agriculture by retarding root growth of plants.” This decreases the root’s growth potential.” (Grosenick). If the ability of the plant to flourish, is stripped away many animals will resultantly lose a food source. In addition, the implications of improperly disposing of plastic is explicitly shown when massive monsoon flooding in Mumbai, India were due to “plastic bags which clogged gutters and drains, preventing the rainwater from leaving the city through underground systems”(Ansari, Chavan, Husain). This later lead to stagnant water.A frequently used alternative to dumping plastics in landfills is incinerating since “None of the commonly used plastics are biodegradable… As a result, they accumulate, rather than decompose, in landfills or the natural environment” .(Geyer, Jambeck, Law). burning plastic is a permanent method to exterminating it. But there are many downsides such as “harmful gases, including carbon dioxide, carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins.” (Grosenick). being released into the atmosphere. Some of which are greenhouse gases that can be traced back to global warming and climate change. Overall, the rapidly accelerating production and mass consumption of plastic has made it indispensable to society in regards to everyday life. However, the numerous methods in which plastic is disposed of plays a factor in the deterioration of the environment and fails to conserve it. Plastic consists of toxic pollutants that infiltrate the land, ocean, and air when disposed of. Thus, setting off a chain reaction with long lasting impacts.


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