Plastic and the Environment

By Jake Mawhinney and Isabella Longo
DEC 11, 2018

How much plastic do you think you use? Though people don’t realize it, the amount of plastic used as a society has drastically increased in the past years. According to Saint Thomas Aquinas High School’s (STA) Marine Biology teacher, Ms. Aimee Lowe, 1,500 plastic bottles are discarded every minute. Plastic bottles aren’t the only form of this material that is being dumped into the environment. Many other types of disposable packaging are responsible for the plastic build up, which poses a great problem for the state of today’s environment.

The reality of the plastic crisis is that people are disposing plastic products in our environment faster than they decompose. The convenience of disposable packaging seems to outweigh the evils this packaging inflicts on the world around us. Sea turtles and marine creatures are constantly in the spotlight when discussing the issue of plastic, and rightfully so. Because of the excessive amount of plastic carelessly tossed into the ocean each day, marine animals cannot help but ingest some. Plastic particles soon become deadly because they cannot be digested, and the animals can no longer ingest nutritious food. Eventually they starve, which ultimately leads to their demise. According to Ms. Lowe, “By 2050 it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, pound for pound.” 

A landfill engulfed with plastic waste. Photo: Pexels

All of this plastic accumulating in the ocean could be easily avoided. The most common way to correctly dispose of plastic is recycling, but this rarely happens in today’s society. According to the UN environment website, “Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. About 12% has been incinerated, while the rest — 79% — has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment.” Recycling is key to our society because it guarantees relief for our oceans, and environment. It assures that the plastic waste that humans produce is used for the environment and not against it.

Plastic alternatives are abundant, but not widely spread. Some believe the convenience factor is somewhat lost when using refillable bottles or reusable bags, but that is a small price to pay for a healthier environment. Business Insider reporter Mara Leighton, offered many alternatives some of which included cost effective ways to reduce plastic waste. These alternatives include silicon bags, reusable food wraps, glass carafes, disposable wooden cutlery, and reusable metal straws.
Organizations like our STA recycling corps help reduce plastic waste in our school environment. The team is headed by Ms. Lowe and allows a plastic aware school environment.

 

Feautre Photo: Mali Maeder from Pexels