Little Miss Muffet and I got to talking about the dangers of plastic on our environment and I did some research today. I hope this meets with your approval LMM:
One of the major pollutants in our oceans is the plastic bag and its component chemicals. Plastic bags are made from petroleum that is then transformed chemically into ethylene and then polyethylene. Plastic bags and other plastic particles that find their way into our oceans disrupt the ecological balance of marine life and can find their way into our food chain.
Globally, we use about 500 billion bags each year. This means that we use about one million bags per minute! Yes. Per minute.
Over 267 species have been “adversely affected by plastic marine debris and it is estimated to kill over 100,000 marine mammals and turtles each year.’ (Californians Against Waste) The main source of food for sea turtles is jellyfish, and plastic bags pose an extreme threat to these turtles because they often mistake plastic bags as food. “86 percent of all known species of sea turtles have had reported problems of entanglement or ingestion of marine debris.” (Californians Against Waste)
Bisphenol A is one of the most common chemicals in plastic bags, thus when a plastic bag breaks down in water it releases Bisphenol A, which is an endocrine disruptor that is linked to a wide array of human health problems. When Bisphenol A enters the food chain, through drinking water of through human consumption of seafood it has been linked to a wide range of health problems such as “diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, thyroid disorders, ADHD, infertility, erectile dysfunction, early-onset menstruation and obesity.” (The Ecologist) Once Bisphenol A enters the food chain it can be transmitted to babies through breast milk.
Due to the nature of ocean currents, in particular the north Pacific, the water is filled with more plastic than plankton. (Ecologist) Plastic, once it has leached into an ecosystem, can result in attracting other toxins and poisons such as PCB’s and insecticides.
The most important thing we can do is to decrease our consumption of the plastic bag. Bio-degradable bags, are one solution but many municipalities are introducing a tax on the use of plastic bags and others are banning the use of them completely.
Plastic lasts forever so there is no safe way to dispose of it and the only way to ensure that our oceans and waterways do not continue to be damaged by plastic bags is to stop using plastic bags and find healthy alternatives to our plastic addiction.
On a final note, this subject is one that we need to continue thinking about because look around your house for a moment and tally up the number of plastic bags, and other plastic items lying around from shampoo to dish detergent. It is time for us to take a step back and rethink our relationship with an item that is so harmful to human and animal life.