Plastic pollution is the accumulation of plastic contaminants in the environment. Pollutants from plastics are categorized based on their size. The various categories include macro, meso and micro (Halden 12). Plastic pollution is on the rise globally and the main reason cited for the spontaneous growth is the fact that plastics are readily available, cheap and durable thus making them affordable even to the poorest families. According to intensive research carried out, plastics affect both humans and animals by contaminating the environment. Scientists, researchers as well as environmentalists have all raised concerns on the use of plastics due to the negative effects they have on the environment. This study looks to discuss the causes, effects and solutions to plastic pollution.
The causes of plastic pollution are mainly attributed to human activities. According to research it has been established that plastic pollution accounts for a good proportion of land pollution. This is mainly due to their affordability. Most countries all over the globe consume plastics. Plastics are mostly inorganic compounds and therefore once released into the environment they do not decompose. They are non-biodegradable compounds and hence their effect on the environment is long term. The causes of plastic pollution include among others, haphazard dumping of plastic bags after use. Plastic packages ones used are aimlessly left out on the environment and landfills thus causing pollution (Halden 20). Just as highlighted above, plastic pollution can range from micro compounds to macro elements. Pollution can be induced by the less expected products. For instance, many people would argue that milk cartons have no any plastic compound however; it has been proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the cartons used are basically lined or coated with plastic. Secondly landfills and old plain trash are mainly composed of plastics from households. Another cause of plastic pollution is the fact that these compounds are overused due to their durability and affordability. Most plastic products are readily available and affordable. For this reason, they are overused and disposed everywhere. Further fish nets; have also contributed a great deal of plastic pollution mainly in the oceans and lake sides. Fishing is one of the income generating activities however, overuse and misuse of fish nets has tremendously affected oceanic environments. Lastly, haphazard dumping of garbage and debris from homesteads has been cited as the main cause of plastic pollution. A research conducted by Derraik on marine pollution identified garbage disposal as one of the causes of plastic pollution (23). Additionally, Halden (30) noted within great concern that overuse of plastics contribute to plastic pollution.
Plastic pollution is associated with an array of adverse effects on organisms and their environment. Research has established a positive correlation between plastic pollution and human health (Halden 30). It has been found that plastic pollution negatively affects humans, wildlife and their natural habitat. Plastics contain toxic compounds which when ingested can cause reproductive problems (Azzarello and Edward 45). Likewise, plastic pollution has been found to affect sea creatures including the fish we consume. The toxic compounds found in plastics are then transferred along the food chain thus affecting large mammals like humans. It is paramount realizing that plastics destroy the aesthetic beauty of our environment when aimlessly dumped. Landfills from plastics provide an unpleasant scene of the environment. Plastics are also non-biodegradable and therefore, they provide breeding grounds for dangerous organisms like mosquitoes which cause malaria. Other animals like snake can also hide in plastic bags and thus attacking humans. Plastics can also be occupied by rotten substances thus producing unpleasant smell. Other than plastic pollution having negative effects on humans, research has found that sea organisms are on the decline due to plastic pollution (Derraik 32). Plastic pollution has also been associated with low soil fertility and hence low farm yields. This has been attributed to the fact that plastics are non-biodegradable. Lastly, according to a research done by Seltenrich (25) plastics impacts human health ones consumed either directly or indirectly along the food chain.
Having a good balance between plastics and the environment is paramount in mitigating plastic pollution. Most governments have established mechanisms of reducing plastic pollution however, pollution remains high. A number of mechanisms can be used to mitigate and prevent plastic pollution. First, we can reduce plastic pollution by avoiding bottled water. This is a difficult task but with proper mechanisms this can be achieved. Secondly, introducing reusable containers in packaging can be used as an alternative to plastic containers. Businesses and industries should be encouraged to embrace environmental sustainability. Firms producing plastic bags and bottles to e heavily taxed in order to reduce plastic pollution. Plastic pollution can also be minimized if every individual had the same urge of protecting the environment around him/her. Lastly, we can mitigate plastic pollution by employing an ecological footprint in our homesteads. This involves recycling and going organic.
In conclusion plastic pollution involves introduction of plastic contaminants on the environment which end up affecting the environment and its organisms. The causes of this pollution include haphazard dumping of wastes, over use of plastics, readily available and affordable plastic materials, fish nets among others. The contaminants have devastating effects on organisms such as marine seabird and humans. The effects on humans can be acquired directly or indirectly along the food chain. These effects include reproductive problems and increased mortality on sea organisms. Lastly, we can mitigate plastic pollution by shopping friendly, adopting an ecological footprint, avoiding bottled water and embracing sustainability.