The plastic wraps itself around my scales like the second skin I neither want nor need. My colors have faded, and my fins jammed. The particles invade my lungs and sting my eyes even if I squint into the salty water. They call it “microplastics,” but honestly, it is a chemical soup that can only shorten our lives and exacerbate health issues in the entire food chain. We take food where we can get it and sleep fitfully amidst our coughing. We had only heard of the old tales of a time when the water was so clean that the sky reflected itself in the glistening water.
Single-Use Plastics (SUPs), invented for the modern “throwaway society,” are intended to be used only once. SUPs are quickly becoming public eco- enemy number one. They are increasingly produced and used globally, most notably as packaging or consumables, such as shopping bags or disposable tableware. SUPs are landfilled or incinerated, which causes pollution, consumes valuable land, and squanders limited natural resources. Only relatively small amounts are currently recycled, a hindrance to the concept of a circular economy. Moreover, SUP litter aggregation in the natural environment is a significant concern.
As the “Crying Indian” of the 1970s declared, “People start pollution. People can stop it.” On a small scale, this power-to-start and stop pollution might be valid. After all, consumers are the ones who ultimately consume the single-use plastic products and choose, to some degree, what happens with these plastics when they dispose of them.
Generation Z is considered “digital pioneers” who witness the explosion of technology and social media. Born into a world of peak technological innovation, the same can be used to eradicate the evil of SUP waste accumulation. The power of social media as an influencer is undeniable, so much so that maintaining a social media presence is a necessity in today’s corporate environment. The internet can be effectively utilized to instigate discussions and start forums for litter collection campaigns.
Trending hashtags on social media websites such as #plasticfree, #zerowaste, #saynotoplastic, and likewise will prove advantageous to tackle the SUP waste. A small idea on Independence Day – to stop using plastic flags and use flags made of fabric or paper, would be equally bright and tri-colored and serve the purpose. Contests wherein viewers could tweet and narrate their personal experiences on “How they had replaced plastic with other biodegradable alternatives?” is an effective campaign. An interesting method is using an application to track your usage of Single-Use Plastics in your everyday life and use the statistics to cut back on the same.
Some steps to eradicate SUP waste generation include:
- Volunteer time at a clean-up.
- Support plastic bottle deposits- pay 5 cents more for a plastic bottle get it back when you return it for re-use.
- Post online about plastic pollution.
- Follow environment conservation groups/experts on social media.
- Support regulations that require companies profiting from plastics to contribute to environmental efforts.
- Join/donate to aquariums that educate about plastic pollution.
- Pressure companies to reduce plastic packaging.
- Donate to a non-profit organization working on plastic pollution.