Plastic | A toxic love story

The day starts with toothbrushes and ends with a facial scrubber. In between, we use/discard tons of plastics to the environment, which we are aware or unaware. Form the toothbrushes, soap cases, shampoo/body wash containers, bike helmets to food wrappers, water bottles, take-out food containers, ultimately at the end of the day completes with either four or five shopping bags, on the way home. It’s unintentional. You are bounded to at least five plastic products throughout the day. It’s more like you are having an affair with ‘plastics’, which is toxic and could kill you and your surrounds; not today but surely one day.

Wait!.. Did I say surrounds? Is there a third wheel in your love story? Let’s dig in deeper.

The world population is living, working, vacationing, increasingly conglomerating along the coasts, yet standing on a pile of, greatest, most unprecedented, plastic tide ever face. Washed out on our coasts in obvious and clearly visible form, the plastic pollution spectacle palpably unveiling on out beaches is only the prelude of the greater love story that unfolded further away in the world’s oceans, yet most originating from where we stand; land. It is obvious that a seal never goes shopping, whales don’t use facial scrubbers, fishes don’t carry plastic bottles, crabs and shrimps don’t pack with food wrappers; resulting the entire responsibility for the plastics in the ocean on ‘human’, us.

Plastic is versatile, lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, strong and relatively inexpensive. Those are the attractive qualities that lead us, around the world, to such a voracious appetite and over-consumption of plastic goods.

The global annual production of plastics has surpassed 10 billion metric tons and is continuously increasing. Plastic Oceans Foundation, 2018 has reported more than eight million tons of plastic is being discarded, every year. That is definitely NOT a good news. First thing, unlike the other wastes, plastics are not degradable. They persist in the environment forever. Secondly, there are innocent marine organisms living in the oceans and other marine ecosystem, who have no idea of what these colored, fragment particles; getting confused whether is their prey or predator. Over the past decades, there are number of marine species reported entangled or ingested with plastics. From the whale, sea lions, turtles and the birds to the microscopic organisms called zooplankton plastics has been and is greatly affecting marine life on and off shore. Our tremendous attraction to plastic, coupled with an undeniable behavioral propensity of increasingly over-consuming, discarding, littering and thus polluting, has become a combination of lethal nature.

It isn’t the end of the story. Times switch, tides change and recent years the impacts have started directly to affect the humankind. I think we have completely forgotten the basic biology of our body is protein and oceans hold impressively rich amounts of it. In simpler words, we rely on the seafood for high quality protein. Irony is that, nature has a funny way of punishing us. All the way from fishes, crabs and prawns small fragments of plastics; more often called as ‘microplastics’ or ‘nanoplastics’ comes to our plate. All sea creatures, from the largest to the microscopic, are, at one point or another, swallowing the seawater soup instilled with toxic chemicals from plastic decomposition. The world population is eating fish that have eaten other fish, which have eaten toxin-saturated plastics. In essence, humans are eating their ‘own waste’. Long story short, we/our heredity suffers for the mistake we made.

Slow, silent, omnipresent, ever increasing, more toxic than previously thought, the plastic pollution’s reality bears sobering consequences on marine life and humanity. The overwhelmingly largest unquantifiable plastic mass is just made of confetti-like fragmented pieces of plastics.

A plastic-poison has undeniably been instilled by us, prompting an unwilling and illegitimate confrontation of two titans; one synthetic (plastic), the other oceanic. The crisis of massive proportion. An unprecedented plastic tide has occurred, pervasively affecting the world’s oceans, beaches, coastal systems, deep sea, animals and ultimately, us.

Nothing but scribbled thoughts