It’s the time of immense plastic usage, growing garbage patches in the oceans, and the death of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s the time to start taking Earth Day seriously and to start putting forth our best efforts to save the planet. With the current attitude of the president and government towards global warming, it’s more imperative than ever that we start treating Earth, our home, the way it deserves and stop polluting it to the best of our ability. Greenhouse gases are real. Climate change is real. The death of the Great Barrier Reef and hundreds of species that called it their home is real. And we need to do something about it.
The best thing we can do before attempting to save the planet is to educate ourselves. You might think that when you throw a plastic bottle in the recycling bin, it gets turned into a pair of socks or a new T-shirt. However, six of the largest soft drinks companies across the globe only use recycled plastic for 6.6% of their products. The rest? It’s new plastic that further pollutes the air when it’s produced and will end up rotting in a landfill or the ocean. Plastic is made from petroleum, and the recent drop in gas prices means that plastic is cheaper than recycled material. About 6 billion pounds of plastic bottles get thrown away every year, and only 30% of those are recycled. Of that 30% only one fifth is actually used to create recycleable plastic. Recycling a plastic bottle does not mean it actually gets recycled. The best way to ensure your plastic gets recycled is to only buy recycleable plastic in the first place, and thankfully, companies like Arrowhead and Nestle are starting to make most of their bottles out of recycled plastic.
The amount of pollution released by factories during the formation of plastic actually contributes to the warming of the planet. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are increasing the overall heat of the planet, causing the melting of the Arctic ice caps at such an alarming rate that polar bears are becoming more and more endangered. Entire lakes in countries like Bolivia are evaporating due to the heat, ruining the industries there that relied on the lake as a water source. If this current trend continues, so many people will lose their way of life, and so many more animals will become endangered and even extinct. We need to take pollution and climate change seriously, to reverse the negative effects we have been having on the planet, its inhabitants, and its natural beauty.
And it’s going to take a while. Disposable diapers take up to 450 years to decompose. Leather takes 50 years, and glass can take up to a million years to decompose fully. We may never be able to fully get rid of all our trash we have dumped in landfills, in oceans, and even in our own streets, but we can make efforts to reduce our trash output, our pollution, and our carbon footprint. Simply recycling our papers and bottles and turning off our lights at night is no longer going to be enough. The entire human race needs to make a conscious effort to change the way we live soon, otherwise we’ll continue to face more and more drastic consequences.