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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Are Plastic Bottles Killing Us?

Local Plastic Bottles Global Pollutants!

Katie Bigras,an Ecosystem Management Technology student at Fleming College, raises important issues about plastic bottles in this informative piece. Her writing will have you thinking twice before purchasing bottled water again.

Plastic Pollution: Bottles Local and Global Problem

by Katie Bigras
Plastic bottles are not only a problem locally, they are a global phenomenon that is destroying our planet. The water in a plastic bottle is the same water that comes from your tap, only tap water hasn't been subjected to harmful chemicals that leach from the plastic to be ingested by us. Every individual that stops using plastic bottles today is making a difference..

Plastic Pollution: Our Plastic Dependency

I feel people are not properly educated on the effects plastics have on us. We have become dependent on plastic, it is in our clothes, in our food, on our skin, in our hair, and too often used for a matter of seconds before it is thrown away, only to never biodegrade. As a society we are ignorant to where our trash ends up, that in itself effects me deeply.

Plastic Pollution: Covers 40% of Oceans

Every piece of plastic ever created is still in existence. Even when broken down to a single molecule, plastic will not succumb to biodegradation. Even worse- a vast majority of plastic ends up in our oceans. In 1997, Charles Moore discovered ‘The Pacific Garbage Patch’. Roughly 1300 kilometres north of Hawaii, in the North Pacific gyre, plastic particles and other debris fill the Pacific Ocean in a continuous swirling vortex of trash that is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and contain over 100 million tons of plastic. Since the discovery of the Pacific Garbage Patch, similar plastic soups have been found in the South Pacific, the North and South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean. Together, these circulating oceanic dumps cover 40% of the sea which equates to 25% of the surface of our planet.

Plastic Pollution:Nurdles Leaching Deadly Chemicals

Roughly 90% of the Oceans' garbage is plastic, and 10% of the plastic is compiled of nurdles. A nurdle is a small pellet of plastic that is essentially the beginning of every plastic product on Earth. Nurdles get shipped around the  world in rail tank cars, each tanker contains roughly 1 billion of these small plastic pills. The careless transportation of nurdles, has allowed major spillage into our oceans. Most plastics are made up of many chemical compounds, and are synthesized by a process called polymerization. Plastics do not  biodegrade, instead they photo-degrade, meaning the molecules break down into minuscule pieces, but never dematerialize. Once interpolated into the Ocean, plastics become a million times more absorbent: soaking up chemicals such as DDT, and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP’s) then leaching deadly Bisphenol A (BPA) into the oceans. BPA, has been shown to drastically impede the reproductive system,along with many other chemicals with pernicious ramifications.

Plastic Pollution: Killing Birds Fish,and Affecting Our Health

Because of these vast garbage dumps in our precious life supporting Oceans, the food web is inevitably affected. Some seabirds have been found dead with over 1600 pieces of plastic in their stomachs. Over 100,000 marine mammals and millions of fish die every year from plastic pollution. In many areas of the sea, microscopic bits of plastic float about with zooplankton at the ratio of 6:1. Fish and other marine mammals consume the plastic particles anticipating it to be food. The more microscopic the plastic is, the more likely we, the final consumer are going to ingest it. And do not for a second think that out of sight means out of mind, even small doses of the chemicals being leached from the plastics we consume can severely disrupt gene activity and discombobulate the endocrine system, which directly affects every cell in the body.

Plastic Pollution: Will You Help End It?

We are killing wildlife, we are killing ourselves, and we are poisoning Mother Earth. The natural cycle in the Ocean is broken. We cannot fix it, we cannot clean it up, and straining the Ocean for plastic would exhaust any Countries budget. We can only change. Unfortunately, that does not just mean recycling more. Recycling is definitely beneficial, but we must be aware and acknowledge that only 5% of all plastic put into the blue bin is actually recycled. The change must come from the way we consume. Filter water, don`t use plastic bottles 60 billion bottles are purchased yearly, equating to 2.7 million tons of unnecessary plastic waste. Buy products with less packaging, use re-usable bags, and spread the word, be an advocate for our Oceans without it none of us would be here. Lastly, if you see a piece of trash floating down a creek, pick it up, if no one does, it WILL float out to sea
About the Author: Katie Bigras, a student at Sir Sandford Fleming College, is from Ottawa, Ontario. Katie has been passionate about the environment as long as she can remember. After planting over 200,000 trees, Katie changed her summer job, and now fights forest fires with the MNR. Ms.Bigras is currently taking Ecosystem Management Technology at Fleming College and will be graduating in April. From there she plans on getting her Bachelor of Environmental Science.

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