Green Corner: Plastics pose potential threat to environment

As  students, plastic surrounds our every move. Your phone covers, your meals, your rooms and even your cars — plastic is an omnipresent material that is practically impossible to avoid.
But the effects of plastic on our planet are probably not something we consider, especially when drinking our sodas, using our notebooks, grabbing our groceries and doing almost any other activity on any given day.
Plastic use is higher today than it has ever been, but something you may not realize is that every piece of plastic ever created still exists. Plastic takes hundreds of years to biodegrade, according to greenbuzz.net. Not only that, but the plastic we use is affecting not only the planet, but our health as well. It is probably known to most people that oil and natural gas are used in the production and distribution of plastic around the world. Companies add a variety of chemicals that are toxic and potentially harmful to the humans who use them. So when using plastic, not only are you harming the planet in many ways, but you could be harming yourself.
We aren’t just affecting fellow humans with our plastic use. Most people have seen videos of how plastic takes a toll on much of the sea life through ingestion or choking. Because plastic is literally everywhere at this point, many other animals, both domestic and wild, and even the ones that you end up eating, have plastic in their systems.
Our global community has started to make some promising initiatives concerning our plastic consumption. The plastic recycling business in the United States has increased in recent years, according to greenbuzz.net. Local businesses, small businesses, and even some bigger companies, have started offering incentives to reduce the amount of plastic distributed. But even with some encouraging actions, our planet is still being stifled everyday by plastic. Sure, recycling is great, but it still requires energy and time. It also releases pollutants into the air and chemicals into the earth. At this point, we are just slowing down the process of plastic taking over. Of course, if you use plastic, continue to recycle as much as possible. The only way to truly reduce the effects of plastic on the planet, however, is to reduce our use of it.
This may seem like a global problem that can’t possibly be solved by one person recycling a bottle or another choosing reusable bags over plastic ones, but, like everything else in life, every single action has a reaction. Start taking steps toward a better world by coming to the next Green Film, Plastic Planet, on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. in Sweigart 115. There will be a brief discussion following the film.

-Bess Anne Ploener
Westminster Eco-Rep

Printed in the 12/4/13 edition.

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