We have plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic packets, plastic jars, plastic mugs, plastic buckets, plastic toys, plastic gadgets, plastic equipments, plastic jewellery, plastic containers, plastic utensils, plastic glasses, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic chairs, plastic tables, plastic pipes, plastic artworks and a number of other plastic products to assure us that plastic is not to leave anytime soon. The demand is growing and so is the production. But you must have heard of various warning messages regarding plastic with people distinctly asking you to just cut down on the plastic products as much as possible. Ever wondered why they do it? They certainly do not mean to cause any inconvenience as they refrain you from using one of the most vital necessities of the modern world. In fact, it is because they care.
I am sure you know it is because plastic is harmful for the environment that even the government is willing to ban it, we have certain zones which are plastic free and there are places where you will not be allowed to enter while you carry plastic products. You ask why such a radical step? Well because the effect plastic had on the environment was way too dramatic for us to bear it all silently. There have been large scale protests, PIL filed in the name of plastic pollution and even serious health conditions resulting from the continued use of plastic over a long period of time.
Remember when a few years back there was this growing hype about how the shops were not allowed to give away plastic bags? And some of them even stooped. I remember there was a time in India where no shops would openly handover their product in a plastic bag and you had to desperately beg for one if you really needed it. But that ephemeral relief has long been done with as all the shops are now back with their free plastic bags service about which they have nothing to fear. The Indians have made peace with the law and so did the people who are responsible to enforce it. However, there are some shops which have permanently stopped selling plastic bags out of their higher judgment and goodwill. But the good sense is yet to dawn upon many of us as we still continue to ignore the overall effect of plastic on our planet.
If you visit a shopping mall in India, you will see that they charge you extra now for a plastic bag that you take with the supplies. No, it is not because they were making a huge loss selling you a free one. But it is because you did not realize the loss that the nature incurred with every plastic bag that you added to your possession. And it is an initiative to discourage you to use plastic bags. Maybe the 1 or 2 or 3 rupees that you spend on the plastic bags while shopping does not make a difference to you but only if you understood the gesture. In many developed countries though they could not do away with plastic entirely, nobody over the world has, they have certainly restricted the use of it by providing paper bags to carry groceries and even replacing many other plastic products with various alternatives to plastic.
If you could just visit or have visited any river bank or sea beach, by the amount of plastic you will collect from the sand and from what you will find floating in the water is definitive of how the world has been invaded by plastics. The plastic pollution extends to land and even air. Any waste dumping ground that you will come across, at least in India, will be dominated primarily by plastic bags and containers, etc. But mainly it is the plastic bags and other plastic packets that are to be credited with the large scale plastic pollution.
This pollution is powerful enough in poisoning the animals both in land and water and has successfully caused havoc by spilling harmful chemicals everywhere which is killing animals all over the planet. The ocean is contaminated along with the fish and other aquatic species, human beings are taking ill very frequently with skin disease, respiratory problems etc. The toxic chemicals that are used in making of plastic result in a range of health conditions like eye problems, breathing problems etc, interfering with our right to enjoy the natural environment. Many cattle have died chewing bits of plastic.
The main problem with plastic is that it is not biodegradable. It cannot be broken down by any natural process and it is the very durability that plastic has rendered itself so useful for so many purposes of our day to day or exceptional needs and it is the same quality that has made it so harmful for the nature. A plastic product will break down into smaller bits of plastic and it would take hundreds of years for it to break down into simpler compounds. If you think that burning plastic is the solution then sorry to tell you that it too is no relief as burning plastic would emit harmful gas that is multiple times more dangerous than the normal air pollution you are exposed to. Therefore the only solution now is probably in restricting the manufacture of plastic products which can only be done by curbing the use of it.