We love plastics…but we are beginning to get worried about the amount of plastics that litter our environment.
Plastic forms the composition of many items we use these days from shopping bags to sachet water packages, disposable food containers, beverage bottles and a lot more. These items however have been continuously disposed carelessly in the last couple of years leading to a dirty and messed up environment.
Plastic bags and water bottles constitute the bulk of waste materials that clog our drainage systems leading to flooding and erosion. Flooding, in turn, predispose us to the risks of contracting infectious diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid, Malaria, etc.
The most troubling issue here is that plastics take longer periods to degrade and the move to quicken the degradation through burning of these materials leads to release of toxic materials such as dioxins which are harmful to human health.
What then should we do?
• Use of alternative materials to plastic should be encouraged. Few years ago, the state of California in USA took the initiative and banned the use of plastic shopping bags in favour of bags made from reusable materials. Currently, several US states and countries, even in Africa, have keyed into this initiative.
• If disposal of plastics is absolutely necessary, it should be done properly and in accordance to local environmental laws.
• Much better alternatives involve the 3R(RRR) approach of waste management.
REDUCE requires us to seek alternatives to plastics. Rather than use disposable cups in your workplace, you can carry a mug along with you for your water and tea/coffee. Parties can also do without the use of disposable cups.
REUSE says that your disposables don’t always have to be disposable after single use. Plastic shopping bags can be stored and used again.
RECYCLE encourages us to put plastic materials to alternative forms or into alternative uses rather than disposing them outrightly.
• Sanitation exercises should be done regularly to rid our streets, drainages and water bodies of these plastic wastes.
On the 5th Day of June this year, the world, led by the United Nations’ Environment Program(UNEP), will be commemorating the World Environment Day. This year’s colloquium is dedicated to ridding of our environment of plastics. Do well to join activities around you that support this cause.
Let’s work together to keep our environment free from plastic wastes.