Plastic is a prevalent predicament in our society. In the vast expanse of the world's ocean an additional eight million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the waters each year. The repercussions are staggering, leading to the tragic deaths of one million seabirds, 100,000 sea mammals, marine turtles, and countless fish. This environmental menace is not just about the visible impact; it extends to habitat loss, biodiversity decline, and the collapse of ecosystems.
The gravity of the situation becomes even more alarming when we consider that by 2050, the weight of plastic pollution in the sea is projected to surpass the total weight of all the fish inhabiting these waters. The production of over 300 million tonnes of new plastic annually not only depletes natural resources but also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating the global warming crisis.
More than 99% of plastics are derived from oil, gas, and coal. If the current trend continues, it is estimated that plastic production will consume 20% of the world's total oil consumption by 2050, leading to cumulative emissions exceeding 56 gigatons of CO2 if incineration and landfill practices are not improved.
Microplastics, once thought to be a distant concern, have infiltrated even the remotest corners of our planet. In June 2022, microplastics were discovered in freshly fallen snow in Antarctica, raising concerns about their presence. These tiny particles have also been found in sea samples and human blood, with potential health risks such as neurological, respiratory, and autoimmune diseases linked to their inhalation or ingestion. The alarming reality is that an average person may be ingesting around 5 milligrams of plastic every week. Adding to the distress, single-use plastics contain 13,000 chemicals and toxins on average, acting as potential carriers of pathogens, thus increasing the risk of spreading diseases.
Tourism, which is a significant global industry, also plays a role in this crisis. 80% of all tourism occurs in coastal areas. During the peak summer season, coastal areas experience a 40% increase in marine pollution rates, impacting picturesque destinations like Bali directly reducing their biodiversity and economic prosperity. In December 2022, an estimated 600 tonnes of plastic were found scattered across the beaches of this once-idyllic location.
The plastic crisis is real, and it demands urgent attention and collective action. It's time to rethink our choices, advocate for sustainable practices, and work towards a future where our oceans thrive. Small actions often have a larger impact. Recycling our plastics and not sending them to landfill is one way to reduce this pesky pollutant. Swapping out our single-use plastic bottle for a reusable alternative, is another - not only having environmental benefit but personal economic influence too.