Biodiversity connects us all. We belong to the web of life – birds and trees, flowers and bees, humankind and rivers and mountains. Frogs and turtles, butterflies and eagles, ferns and greenhead are also needed to make up a complete environment.
While plastic has been invented for its convenience and low production cost, our oftentimes insensitive actions have wrecked nature and its pristine scenery, and over the years, biodiversity has been affected.
Irresponsible disposal of plastics has caused it to be accumulated in our rivers and oceans, and mostly along our coastline, becoming both a national and global crisis.
Approximately 40% of the world’s oceans are currently covered with plastics, with the rate set to rise, given our current consumption patterns.
Despite recycling and other efforts to solve the problem, it is rapidly intensifying. Plastics’ production has grown 500% over the last 30 years across the nations, and is still increasing at a rate of 3-5% per year.
Plastics and biodiversity
Being buoyant and free, plastics float in the sea. Persistent plastics can find their way atop or below the waters as micro-plastics. Plastic pollution can affect lands, rivers, seas and oceans. Living organisms, particularly marine mammals, can die as a result of improper disposal of plastics. Fishes and birds are no different.
The Center for Biological Diversity has said that between 15 and 51 trillion pieces of plastic are found within the oceans daily. Thousands (1000s) of animals eat, or are caught in, plastics.
“Marine plastic litter pollution is already affecting more than 800 marine species through ingestion, entanglement and habitat change,” according to the UN Environment’s Coral Reef Unit.
Seabirds mistake plastics for food and eat them. Plastics reduce the storage capacities of their stomachs, and they die from starvation. Sea turtles mistake plastics for jelly fish and they eat them, and choke on them. Plastic straws also can get into the little nostrils of sea turtles, with devastating effect. All these plastics in the oceans can cause damage to the outer bodies and internal organs of sea turtles.
Entanglement is also a significant threat to marine species. Marine mammals often get caught in abandoned nets; and they are left there, fighting to come out of the tangle in which they have found themselves. As many as 40,000 fur seals are killed each year when they get entangled in plastic debris.
The proposed ban on single-use plastics
With the impacts of climate change on ecosystems already being a significant problem, the additional threat of plastics must be taken seriously. It is because of this that Guyana has decided to ban single-use plastics. Protection of our biodiversity and ecosystems is important, and we want to ensure their continued existence. We want to ensure their sustainable management and coexistence for life both on land and in the waters.
We do not have to wait for 2021 for this ban to take effect; we can start now, and correct our mistakes.
Use less plastic, and ensure proper waste disposal systems are employed. Using reusable and recycled materials is always possible. Support the single-use plastics’ ban.
“The Environment is Everybody’s Business”