The shoes, while the son would buy DVDs and

The
invention of plastic, though useful and convenient, has caused several
problems. Plastic pollution describes the accumulation of man-made plastic
products, to the point that they create problems for living things and their
habitats.

 

The
history of plastic stretches back to 1839, when Polystyrene was first
discovered by Eduard Simon. Almost 70 years later, in 1907, Leo Hendrik
Baekeland invented Bakelite, the first piece of purely synthesised plastic.
Since then, the use of plastic has grown largely, whether in households or commercially.

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Plastic
is used all around the world – it’s cheap, convenient, and versatile. It can be
easily moulded into shapes, and is very durable. It is found in dishware,
pipes, toys, and even clothing. Plastic is mainly used in packaging – on
average, it only takes 4 family shopping trips to accumulate 60 shopping bags, and
40% of all non-fibre plastics are used for packaging. According to a study
conducted in 2011, approximately 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced annually.
In fact, plastic is so widely used nowadays that the amount of plastic produced
in the last 10 years surpassed that of the amount of plastic produced in the
last century! Plastics take more than 400 years to degrade, so most of them still
exist on earth in some form, with only a tiny 12% that has been incinerated.

 

Imagine
this: A family of four goes to the mall every weekend. The mother may buy new
bags and shoes, while the son would buy DVDs and toys. They’d also stock up on
food, buying meat and vegetables, as well as some titbits. However, instead of
using recycle bags and baskets, they use the plastic bags that stores provide
for free to hold their purchases. After they go home, they empty the bags, and
while some families may collect plastic bags for future use, most just throw
the bags into their trashcan, and the plastic bags get sent to landfill sites,
and after a few decades, are ultimately thrown into the sea.

 

It
is undeniable that plastics should be disposed of correctly. Studies show that
less than 10% of plastics are recycled per year, which means that there’s still
more than 90% of this toxic waste lying around in landfill sites, flying around
our surroundings, and floating in our oceans, bringing harm to wildlife and
marine animals. There are a few causes of plastic pollution, including plastic
being overused. America uses approximately 102.1 billion tonnes of plastic bags
and 50 billion tonnes of plastic water bottles per year, but its plastic
recycling rate is only at 23%, which means that more than 117.1 billion tonnes
of plastic waste is still left. “The lack of awareness and indifference
only partly explains the absence of recycling habits… In most cases people do
not recycle simply because they are not required to do so,” said Tong Yen
Wah, a Singaporean, when interviewed by CNBC regarding the lack of interest of
Singaporeans in recycling. It is true that households do not normally take the
trouble to dispose of their trash at proper places such as recycling centres or
incinerators, but instead just improperly leave them at places of their
convenience.

 

Other
than that, the low price of plastic products may also be a reason for plastic
pollution. It is cheap and easy to manufacture, and due to its popularity and
increasing demands, the production of plastic products tripled in the recent
decades.

 

Plastic
pollution is everywhere – no matter in oceans or on land – and has taken the
lives of many aquatic creatures. Studies
show that more than 100000 marine creatures and 1 million sea birds die from
plastic entanglement every year, and these are only the ones found! There seems
to be no end to this vicious cycle, since the body of the animal decays after
some time, while the plastic stays intact. After the bag is free from the
decomposed body of the creature, it floats around the ocean again, waiting for
the next sea creature to fall victim to its harmless looking yet deadly self.

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