What Happens to Plastic When You Throw It Away?

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Have you ever wondered what happens to plastic when you throw it in the trash can? It doesn’t actually disappear into thin air when the garbage man whisks it away. Here is where it goes, and how it’s affecting our planet – and you.

You may think of trash as going to a city dump or landfill, where it is crushed and left to rest indefinitely. But actually, discarded plastic can end up very far from where it started.

If you’re wondering why this is important, check out the article below, which details some of the dangerous effects that plastic pollution can have on the environment – and even on our health.

…The quest to obtain a source of convenience through the use of plastics is, ironically, creating a massive inconvenience for humans. From health problems to threats to food security to impacts on the economy, allowing plastic waste to enter our oceans is also allowing it to enter our bodies and infiltrate our lives.

How and Why Are There Plastics in Our Oceans?

Scientists have found the current rate of disposal of plastics into our world’s oceans is roughly eight million tons a year. And while we would like there to be a few easy sources to target when it comes to the producers of all this plastic waste, the reality is that countries all over the world are to blame….

What Plastics Are Doing to Sea Life

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When marine animals ingest plastic, they stand to suffer a range of issues. They may cause themselves internal injuries while plastic slices its way through the animals’ digestive tract. Plastic may also fill up the stomach, eventually preventing an animal from being able to consume food, thus starving to death….

External plastic materials may wrap around the head, flippers, or tail of a variety of sea creatures. This can make movement and feeding difficult or impossible, with the threat of further injury and death being a real issue.

What Plasticized Oceans Are Doing to Us

So, it’s obvious plastics are spelling bad news for wildlife. But it’s important not to forget about how humans are impacted as well from this environmental nightmare. After all, we are part of the ecosystem too.

Plastic Toxins in the Food Chain

First off, the toxins that can enter the human body as the result of consuming seafood exposed to plastics are becoming a real problem for human health. Some plastics contain BPA which stands to act as an endocrine disruptor…. Phthalates are another toxin often found in plastics and have been shown to harm developing fetuses at certain levels.

A final health issue dealing with plastic consumption via seafood is accumulated toxins and carcinogens in the plastic material….

Considering the fact that some studies estimate that people who eat shellfish can consume up to 11,000 pieces of microplastic a year, this toxic burden has the potential to really add up.

Food Security

Second, food security for some regions relying on the ocean is being put at risk as the result of plastic pollution. According to the Global Ocean Commission, about three billion people around the planet rely on the ocean to provide at least 20 percent of their protein….

Economic Concerns

Finally, economies worldwide suffer as plastics continue to choke out life in our oceans. Tourism based on pristine ocean environments, healthy marine animals, and clean beaches stands to hurt when plastics are present. Who wants to scuba dive in a sea of plastic bags, or play in waves of plastic bottles? The fishing industry also is in a place to suffer from plastic as fisheries become degraded and depleted as the result of this pollution…. The shipping industry is yet another economic endeavor impacted by ocean plastics….

To learn more, and to find out how you can take action to reduce plastic pollution, visit One Green Planet.

 

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