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What was once one of the most versatile compounds for everyday use is now a grave concern for marine life. In its various forms, plastic poses a danger to our oceans in more ways than one. According to CSIRO, the Australian Government’s science agency, consuming plastic is accountable for the deaths of 80 different species of animals. Australian scientists have estimated that approximately 14m tonnes of plastic has been found on the ocean floor.
Plastic pollution has now become an alarming environmental issue that has the potential to endanger our wildlife. Animals like seals, whales, turtles, and many other aquatic animals are at maximum risk. However, some plastic products are more hazardous than others. Therefore, by identifying them and avoiding their use, we can help protect the environment significantly.
Here is a list of the ten most hazardous waste removal that are harming the oceans:
Both the lightweight and heavyweight varieties of plastic shopping bags can be extremely dangerous for marine animals. On account of their ability to float in water, they can travel longer distances. Birds often mistake bits of plastic shopping bags as food and ingest the toxic material.
Ravenous sea turtles, on the other hand, have a hard time differentiating between jellyfish and floating plastic bags. Once the soft plastic enters their digestive tracts, it blocks their systems, and consequently, the poor animals starve to death.
Plastic cutlery is widely used for outdoor activities like camping and picnics as a cost-effective substitute to regular cutlery. However, plastic cutlery can prove to be lethal for birds, sea turtles, and marine animals. Their sharp corners and edges can be a cause of serious injury.
Just like plastic bags, plastic straws are extremely lightweight. That makes them easy to blow away and pollute the oceans, where they end up eventually. These straws can block the noses and airways of animals, thus killing them. Australia records the use of 10 million straws daily. It’s interesting to note that plastic straws can take up to 200 years to disintegrate.
Bottles are one of the most common dangerous plastic products that pollute aquatic life. While plastic bottles are recyclable, they are still disposed of carelessly, because of which they end up in landfills and water bodies. Animals of various sizes are prone to mistakenly ingesting the lid or the shredded bottle as food.
This type of plastic is mostly used in supermarkets to preserve fruits and vegetables. They are extremely thin and can easily blow away into water bodies. These plastic wrappers can tangle around other things in the ocean. Eventually, whales and other sea mammals might swallow them.
Balloons, while being a source of harmless fun to humans, can be extremely hazardous to marine life. There have been many incidents when balloons have been found in the guts of dead animals. A balloon is rubbery and stretchy, making it easy to wrap around other things in the digestive tract.
Interestingly, most disposable coffee mugs come with a plastic lining. Such a lining prevents leakage and adds firmness to the coffee cup. However, once inside water bodies like seas and oceans, these cups and their lids later disintegrate into smaller pieces. These plastic pieces mimic food and can easily find their way into a marine animal’s gut.
Plastic takeaway containers are some of the most dangerous plastic products owing to their rigidity and brittleness. When ingested by marine animals or birds in the form of broken bits, they can cause severe internal injuries.
Another common culprit is plastic plates and bowls that are convenient to use but are slightly difficult to recycle because of their shapes. Once they end up in waterways, their pieces can be eaten by turtles and other animals mistakenly.
Being non-biodegradable and extremely difficult to recycle, polystyrene containers can heavily pollute oceans and other water bodies. Polystyrene consists mostly of air (about 98%) and is thus easy to fly around and reach water bodies.
The worst thing about the situation is that plastic becomes difficult to retrieve after it reaches the oceans. Keeping this in mind, the Government and we, as citizens, should encourage the use of non-toxic and eco-friendly substitutes of the above-mentioned dangerous plastic products. All lives are important and we must learn to live in harmony with nature. Plastic collectors are working hard to reduce plastic waste plaguing the planet. You can be a part of their journey too.