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The Environmental Problem with Plastic


It appears like plastic is everywhere you look. From the vehicles we drive to the merchandise we consume, from the pipes in our lawns to the brushes we use in our bathrooms. If plastic is everywhere how can it be so undesirable?

Our oceans are the source of most of the earths oxygen and are an integral portion of our international ecosystem. The waste we create from our plastic addiction is literally threatening our oceans. According to the Californians Against Waste (CAW), “In some of the most polluted places of the Pacific, plastic already outweighs plankton by a element of six!”

According to a current post in the San Francisco Chronicle there is a “a heap of debris floating in the Pacific that’s twice the size of Texas.” This continent sized debris heap has been titled the Excellent Pacific Garbage Patch by marine biologists. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is comprised of actually millions of points of trash – most of it plastic. In 2006 the United Nations Environment Program estimated that in every single square mile of ocean you can uncover 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. It is literally the world’s largest landfill, and it is floating in the Pacific ocean.

From Our Litter to Our Oceans

How does the plastic bag you took home from the grocery store end up in the Pacific ocean? Up to 90% of the plastic discovered in our oceans sadly comes from urban runoff.

A Expanding Epidemic

Although a lot more and more waste collects, far more is getting developed. In the previous 20 years plastic production has doubled and is still continuing to expand. With plastic goods supplying makers a lifespan of 1,000 years unless consumers respond to this issue, it will only develop.

The amount of plastic located in our oceans is getting a profound effect on a lot of various animals.

Some biologists estimate that millions of birds and other marine species have just died from starvation or some sort of poisoning after mistakenly ingesting plastic when looking for meals. Our dwindling sea turtle population is at intense risk.

An Impossible Problem

According to the United Nations Environment Program we are facing what some might take into account an not possible difficulty, they state that in “some regions, massive fragments can be collected, but it’s basically not feasible to thoroughly clean a section of ocean that spans the area of a continent and extends one hundred feet under the surface.”

Our only true resolution is managing our waste on land before it reaches our oceans.

Can Plastic Be Recycled?

Whilst plastic can be recycled its not a cut and dry method. Recycling petrochemical resins or plastics is each an pricey and complex procedure. When plastic are recycled post-consumer they are generally ” downcycled.” When a plastic meals container is downcycled it is reused, but it will by no means qualify as food grade plastic once more. Every time the plastic is downcycled some level of worth is lost. If any product calls for downcycling it must not be regarded as a sustainable option.

What About All My Plastic Purchasing Bags?

As a lot of cities are banning plastic bags, numerous supermarket chains are following suit. Several shoppers are actually left holding the bag. If you locate your self in this scenario, don’t forget even downcycling is a far better choice than making landfill waste. If you have a massive quantity of plastic grocery bags and require to recycle them but have no convenient location then try the following web site which offers a searchable database of plastic bag recycling places:

A single of the benefits of this resource is they can assist you locate locations to recycle more than just plastic grocery buying bags, they can also assist you recycle:

Retail bags
Paper towel and toilet paper plastic wrap
Plastic newspaper bags
Plastic dry cleaning bags
All clean, clear bags labeled with a #two or #four

Plastic Waste

Any recycling selection is greater the making waste. According to SIGG, “More than 100 million plastic water bottles are dumped into America’s landfills — ever day!” By the end of every single year we reach a grand total of almost 40 billion plastic bottles. If every single piece of plastic takes 1,000 years to photodegrade, not biodegrade, it seems we are producing waste as an not possible to keep rate. To compound the situation these number represent “water bottles” which are just a part of our larger plastic addiction.

Doesn’t Plastic Biodegrade?

Unlike several other materials plastic does not biodegrade – instead it photodegrades. As plastic photodegrades it breaks down into smaller sized and smaller sized pieces of plastic rather of splitting into simpler compounds. With so considerably plastic in our ocean the small bits of plastic produced via photodegradation are called mermaid tears or nurdles.

It really is these modest particles that are eaten initial by filter feeders in the ocean and then gradually function their way up the meals chain as they are consumed by larger creatures.

The Impact of Plastics on Humans

With the astounding quantities of plastic waste found not only in our oceans but also our landfills it shouldn’t be surprising that chemical compounds are slowing operating their way by means of the food chain and into foods commonly food in our human diets. The CAW states, “Practically all of us carry in our bodies chemical compounds present in plastics — raising alarming queries about the part plastics play in human well being and diseases such as cancer and autism.”

Nevertheless practical plastics are, however typical they have turn into it really is time for us to look at the impact they are possessing on our environment and our well being. With a lot more sustainable possibilities such as glass already obtainable is not it time we cured ourselves of our plastic addiction.

Sam Greyhawk is an environmental evangelist functioning with Cool-N-Save(tm), an Energy Star Partner, to spread the message of reduce, reduce and recycle. The Cool-N-Save(tm), endorsed by Ed Begley, Jr [], is an energy saving device for your existing air conditioner that has been scientifically confirmed to instantly decrease your utility bill.

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In-Service Day 2012
Environmental Jobs

Image by BLMOregon
On Oct 2, Rosemary Anderson Higher College students and the Timber Lake Job Corps crew worked alongside employees from the Forest Service and BLM to plant trees and pull weeds at the Marmot Dam website

Question by Yates: environmental engineering?
I’m in college proper now and I was wondering what environmental engineers really do. Do they sit at a desk or do they usually get to function outside in nature? What especially or varieties of projects would they function on? Do they get to travel? Do environmental engineers get to select what they want to perform on? Is there alot of freedom and flexibility in the job?

I’m actually into nature and was wanting to help the atmosphere, but at the very same time it seems sort of futile. I was also considering about ecology and conversation or one thing like that. Fundamentally my life ambitions are to just own land, have a massive garden for meals, have a horse, a few livestock and to have a tiny home. I’m into survivalist issues as well and learning about plants and such. I truly just do not want to be sucked into the American common life of working your life away. So anyways, how about that environmental engineering?

Ideal answer:

Answer by Cahill
Environmental engineering is the application of science and engineering principles to increase the all-natural atmosphere (air, water, and/or land resources), to give healthful water, air, and land for human habitation, plants, animals, etc. They frequently tackle remediation of polluted internet sites. It involves waste water management and air pollution handle, recycling, waste disposal, radiation protection, industrial hygiene, environmental sustainability, and public overall health problems as nicely as a information of environmental engineering law. They are frequently utilised to produce environmental impact studies and reports on proposed construction projects.

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