People are still overusing plastic to the point that it has become a serious environmental concern. From bottles to bags and caps, we’re using too much — and we need to develop sustainable solutions to get this under control.
The overuse of plastic is a global issue with detrimental environmental impacts, particularly for sea life. As of right now, 86 percent of ocean debris consists of plastic.
Fragments of plastic are also polluting ocean sediments and are now present even in plankton, the animal anchoring the lowest level of the oceanic food chain.
Higher up on that chain, animals both on land and in the water can choke if they eat any plastic or lethally entangle themselves in plastic materials.
These are only a few of the effects plastic is leaving on the natural world — and there are many more. Luckily, scientists are developing solutions and politicians are working to realize them.
In Minnesota, the City Council has proposed a ban on the use of plastic bags. A five-cent charge on paper or compostable bags would help to balance out the higher costs they’d impose on businesses.
The City Council hears the proposal this week, but Council members Abdi Warsame and Cam Gordon developed it last summer. They hope to make Minneapolis a city that recycles almost everything. Right now, more than 100 cities in the United States already have restrictions on plastic bags, but this is a regulation which legislators worldwide need to implement.
But plastic bags are not the only plastic material polluting the earth. In addition to restricting their use, we need to start repurposing things like bottles and caps rather than let them sit in the ocean or contaminate the ground.
Exemplifying how to do this, a Russian YouTube user created a device that can shred plastic bottles into a rope, which users can string or melt together. The material is incredibly strong, and if used correctly, people could repurpose it to serve on an industrial level.
Local governments should give ideas like these the utmost attention so they can become commercial products and spread to other countries. If the ideas expand, large corporations might even incorporate commercialized products into their businesses, thus creating an even bigger impact than individual users ever could.
Think what could happen if Minnesotan companies like 3M and General Mills began to widely use recycled plastic materials. Recycled plastic could become the main component of their products, eliminating waste on a large scale.
Each of us can only reduce plastic consumption on a small level, but if more corporations decided to incorporate strategies like regulating plastic bags and repurposing recycled plastic, we could begin to address the issue of plastic pollution on a much wider scope.
Keelia Moeller welcomes comments at [email protected]