How Plastics Affect the Environment

Plastics thrown along a beach.

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Plastics thrown along a beach.

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The Earth is heating up and the oceans are dying. According to “The Environmental Impact of Plastic Straws – Facts, Statistics, and Infographic” on the “Get Green Now” blog (getgreennow.com) on January 25, 2018, in the USA, there are 500 million plastic straws being used every day! It is enough straws to circle around the Earth 2.5 times!

Everyone knows that plastics are bad for marine life and the environment, but why? First, plastic can’t be recycled easily. Although type 5 plastic can be recycled, it is not accepted by most of the recycling centers. Then the straws mostly end up being thrown into the environment. It takes 200 years to decompose a plastic straw.

Second, plastic can harm wildlife. Animals eat the plastics by accident. For example, researchers off the coast of Costa Rica tried to remove a plastic straw from the nose of a sea turtle. The sea turtle probably ate the straw by accident, and the straw got stuck in its nostril when the turtle tried to cough it out. Other small plastic items can be easily picked up and eaten by seabirds; then the birds die from choking. According to the “Get Green Now” blog cited above, each year 1 million seabirds, and 100,000 other marine animals die from ingesting plastics.

Third, when people eat seafood, there might be chemicals in the food from plastics that were eaten by the fish and other sea creatures that we like to eat, such as lobsters and mussels. Scientists don’t yet know how digesting chemicals from plastics affects our bodies, but these chemicals could be having negative effects on our health.

So let’s start to reduce plastic pollution! It will be better for the environment, better for all the animals that live in our oceans, and may also be better for our own health. It is really easy to do; we just need to stop using single-use plastics. Here are five easy ways that we can stop using plastic in our daily lives: 1. When you go shopping, remember to bring a reusable bag, then you don’t need to use the single-use plastic bags from the store; 2. Start using reusable straws. Reusable straws last for a long time, and they are easy to clean. Many reusable straws even come with their own special cleaning brushes; 3. Stop buying plastic water bottles; start using reusable bottles made of non-plastic materials; 4. Stop chewing gum or chew plastic-free chewing gum. Gum is made from synthetic rubber, which is a form of plastic; and, 5. Leave products with lots of unnecessary plastic packaging on the shelf!

We can all do our part to make a positive difference in the environment and to lessen the effects of climate change. For example, at Rectory School, we have installed water filters for drinking to cut down on the use of plastic water bottles. Yeah, Rectory! We need to all be aware of our actions and do what we can to create a better environment for all future generations.

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