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The dangers of plastics

August 2, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Jasen Obermeyer

It’s an issue that has been growing rapidly over the years.

The usage of plastics has been a heated topic for some time, but over the past several years has been at the forefront of many environmental groups. Recently here, the Climate Change Action Dufferin-Caledon (CCADC) has been calling on the municipalities, and the county as a whole, to ban the use of plastic bags.

Throughout the world, activists and environmentalists are calling on governments and corporations to stop the usage of plastics as a whole.

But banning plastics is certainly not easy. It’s like invading a foreign country and completely changing its ideology – it will take time and a lot of work.

It’s amazing and sad to think of how much plastic we have consumed since its usage became popular in the 1950’s, but even then it still wasn’t as big.

Plastic is cheap to make, and it suits our time now, when everyone wants things at affordable costs and at the snap of their fingers. The concept of supply and demand has changed throughout history, and what we consume changes as well.

In our time, plastics are just an easy, cheap way of meeting supply and demand, no doubt to the world’s population constantly growing, especially since the 1950’s with the Baby Boomers.

Now, it seems everything is made from plastic – bags, water bottles, furniture, toys. The quality is fine at best, and poor at worst.

Seeing the things my parents own, things made before plastic became a mass consumption, makes me a little envious, because I know it is hard to afford those products, because they aren’t made as much now, and therefore cost more.

When I go to the local dump in Adjala and I drive to the various spots throwing out the various items, I’m amazed and always disturbed by what I see. Yes, I see the efforts of the workers making sure people put the right product in the right area, but I also see the mounds of garbage upon garbage.

Plastic, as everyone should know, takes a very long time to break down, and at the dump I see it being covered in layers and layers of dirt, to make it break down a little more quickly. It makes me a little sick seeing the hills that look natural with grass and greenery, but knowing that under it are layers of garbage, most of which I’m sure is plastic.

It’s not just plastic that’s the problem; it’s garbage in general. We consume so much; yet have so little room to put it.

We’ve reached that point now where I believe we are realizing, and suffering, the consequences of our actions.

I’m sickened when I see photos and videos of garbage and plastic just floating in oceans, so thick it almost becomes a wall. Even on land, we see it pile up on shorelines. Just take a walk down your road or street, and it won’t be hard to find some sort of garbage carelessly left to further harm our environment.

This pollution has been destroying our wildlife and habitats. In the ocean, it’s removing reefs that have been there for thousands of years, the lifeline of our waters. It kills off creatures on land, sea, and air.

The implementation of recycling is good, and other efforts have been done to help the environment, but they are not enough.

Several movies I’ve watched, and video games I’ve played, have a backstory where the Earth is either overpopulated, or so polluted that humanity was forced to abandon the planet entirely, or colonize other worlds. Fascinating, but unreassuringly. As it’s a creation of someone’s imagination, anything can be done, including the means to travel through space, finding planets to live on, and avoiding catastrophe.

But the sad truth is that we will reach that point where our pollution will be irreversible, and unlike the movies, we don’t seem to be close to finding a way to expand into the stars. It seems we may not get to that point before pollution wins.

Certainly acknowledging the problem is good, and recent efforts to ban plastic straws is admirable, but drastic change needs to be made. And it all starts with the individual. Maybe we’ll always use plastics, but maybe we can decrease that use, find alternative means.

I don’t want movies like WALL-E or The Day After Tomorrow to become a reality.

         

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