Victoria Lu talks us through why she feels the plastic industry needs to change its ways if we are to have an affluent future.
Throughout the entirety of my life, plastic has been integral. It is littered amongst my neighbourhood, chokes the rivers in the parks, and is wasted in tons on supermarket aisles.
There seems to be no relief from the burden of plastic. Human consumption spans anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 micro-plastic particles a year, and with added estimates of how much micro-plastic might be inhaled, that number is more than 74,000.
The inhalation of micro-plastics is proving to be the silent killer of our generation. Research confirms that micro-plastics entering the human body account for a multitude of diseases and disruptions to the bodily systems such as cancer, auto-immune conditions, and neuro-degenerative diseases, to cite a few.
Despite the persistent health crisis, the Global Plastic Industry is booming, with a projected growth from the current value of $344 billion to $412 billion in 2024.
There is a complete disregard for social and corporate accountability, and thus persistent efforts must be executed in resolving the extremity of the plastic crisis for the sake of our generation’s survival.
Companies force the use of plastic plates, cups, utensils, unwrapped packaging; consequently leading to excess plastic waste, and it is in this everyday plastic use that causes us to hardly stop and reflect on our waste.
A toss of a simple plastic straw will take a century to decompose, and thus a neglected straw is representative of the idea of plastic. Simple to use, but detrimental to public health:The plastic bottle we quench our thirst from releases toxins such as BHA from heated plastic.
Contaminating Our Produce
The packaging on a box of sliced fruit carries a risk of an inhalation of micro-plastic particles and hundreds of toxic substances.
The nourishing food we consume for energy is littered with plastic contaminates.
The accumulation within our soil, air and aquatic food chains lends increased opportunities in plastic waste exposure.
The air we breathe in is arid with micro-plastics and the effects of poor plastic waste management.
The carcinogenic exposure ensues the impairment of the nervous system, endocrine system, reproductive and developmental issues and cancer.
Micro-plastics that enter the human body through direct ingestion or inhalation may cause inflammation, genotoxicity, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and necrosis, among other health effects.
As a member of our plastic crazed society, I have unknowingly consumed roughly five grams of plastic each week in the course of daily life, or about the weight of a credit card, according to Australian researchers.
Roughly a half pound of plastic per year. We are evidently amongst a public health crisis, and at sixteen, I am at a high risk of plastic induced illness.
The fossil fuel industry is directly responsible for 99% of plastic produced, and over 170 chemicals are used in the process. In order to decrease plastic waste, the fossil fuel industry needs to be heavily reformed with an increase in the transparency of plastic production and chemicals from major corporations and companies.
Moreover, research is imperative to evaluate the effect of thousands of toxins, micro plastics and fibres within consumer goods.
Legal framework should also be adopted in order to ensure that frontline communities are protected and an increase in d reform and research.
When it comes down to it, holding the industry and legislators accountable is the only path towards change, and as youth, we need to educate and involve ourselves in efforts to revolutionise the industry.
Lastly, social media is a useful tool and by reposting, liking and sharing information, you are educating hundreds and potentially thousands of people on the effects of the plastic crisis and who consumers must be holding accountable.
If there continues to be an abhorrent neglect, there leaves little hope for the health of the future of our generation.
Victoria Lu is a student in New York at Forest Hills High School. If you have a story to share with us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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