Plastic waste: the inaudible warning bell
Nov 8, 2022
The earth will continue to rotate. But it will churn out the living species, leaving the existing species and human establishments as fossils for the next line of species. The toxic synthetic waste that we dump daily will roll deeply down into the soil to make the future fossils. Plastic waste may only be one of the accidental contributors to the imminent species-churning process through a clean-up of the earth if we continue to neglect all the warning bells.
Every day, a fraction of the toxic waste polymer enters the human body. Somehow, we cannot stop taking in synthetic polymers as we live in the plastic era, which we consider a low-cost substitute for heavy-weighing metals like steel and aluminium. Plastics contributed their share to making our modern life more luxurious and stylish, of course with inexplicably more dangerous consequences. We need everything packed in grant style and hygienic. Modern enterprises have set packaging norms for their vendors to follow. Plastics have become our first choice as we do not want ugly packaging. Now they have become unavoidable in the flourishing packaged food industry.
The low-cost plastic packaging material is a cost-saver for them with an aesthetic advantage. The rapid growth in the urban economy and the consequent lifestyle changes trigger the demand for packaged foods. Set aside the industry and luxurious lifestyle, plastics have become unavoidably omnipresent across the land, including forests, rivers, and ocean beds. We can’t find a spot around us where there are no plastics. Animals and fish consume plastic particles without knowing the toxicity of the synthetic polymer. That eventually enters into humans to cause cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
One may naturally ask how the plastic waste dumped by us enters our bodies. The answer lies in the food we eat. The waste we regularly throw out mixes with the soil and water to pollute the environment. So many chemicals, plastics, and other hazardous substances enter the soil through landfills to emit carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. Trees and plants which we grow for our food absorb them. Domestic animals like cows, pigs, and livestock somehow consume plastic materials.
The micro particles of plastic mix with the drinking water and the sea to affect marine life in many ways. Eventually, they come to us in the form of delicious foods. Plastic waste dumping has already threatened wildlife. A cup of coffee a day alone generates an average 20-gram plastic waste in multiple ways. Globally, such waste accounts for thousands of tonnes. Studies say we consume plastic equivalent to a credit card size every week.
Despite our knowledge of it, we cannot do away with the use of plastics in our daily life. The more we consume, the more waste we pile up. Millions of tonnes of plastic gush out of big and small factories every day. More or less the same volume of waste also gushes out into the streets to jam the drainage and fill the sprawling dump yards. The rising debris burdens the earth.
In the long run, it would adversely affect our living ecosystem, far more dangerously with an ecological imbalance than we worry about now. Nature creates no waste on earth as it recycles everything to support the living system. But we process every available natural resource to produce synthetic materials and carbon. All research and studies are on the upper side of the hand. But we overlook the dangerous volume of waste we dump on the earth each day.
One day, the earth will clean up everything to make all our establishments the fossils for the next line of species, similar to the fossils that have made up our mineral resources. In the cleanup, humans will vanish from the earth. The waste we dump may only be accidental and too late to regret. Waste is universal, seemingly ready to roll deeply into the soil. Whatever you give, comes back to you, is an abiding adage. Let us remember it.