When I go to the park with my younger sister, I enjoy admiring the nature around me. I often see trees, butterflies, flowers and all the other beautiful things nature has to offer. What I also see are plastic bags, bottles, straws and other single-use plastics that people choose to litter. No one wants to visit parks or trails and be welcomed with anything other than the fresh breeze and beautiful trees. Because of this, the Canadian government has made a plan to keep harmful plastics away from our environment and is prohibiting the use of all single-use plastics beginning this coming December!
Why are Single Use Plastics Harmful to the Environment?
Unlike plants, paper waste or manure, plastics do not biodegrade. Organic items take years to biodegrade and disposable plastics take even longer. To put things into perspective, it takes a banana peel up to 2 years to decompose and a plastic bottle 450 years. Not only that, disposable plastics do not fully biodegrade, they turn into microplastics that contaminate the environment around us. Microplastics can also be known as micro particles that are products of plastics breaking down, they can poison our water and our food leading to numerous illnesses.
- Killing Wildlife
As a result of the mass amounts of plastics polluting the environment and bodies of water, wildlife are dying at unprecedented rates. Plastics traveling in water bodies affects all kinds of ocean life and land dwellers. From fish to birds, animals can get caught, tangled and choked by harmful plastic debris. Animals begin dying and create a ripple effect that affects their ecosystems as a whole.
- Destroying Habitats
Plastic pollution greatly harms all habitats as well. It creates a dangerous environment that animals have not evolved to live in. Plastic pollution has gotten so bad where there are islands of garbage created on the ocean. They are called ocean garbage patches and many are stretched kilometers on the ocean containing tons upon tons of plastic waste. Plastic in habitats creates poisoning, starvation and a dangerous environment for land animals, ocean life and humans alike.
Examples of Single Use Plastics and What You Can Use Instead?
Single use plastics offer serious health and environmental problems in the world. Some examples of single use plastics include:
- Food wrappers
- Cigarette butts
- Plastics forks, spoons and bowls
There are many different alternatives to the plastic materials listed above and more. Green alternatives are better for the environment and humans alike, they lower the risk of many different health problems, damaging habitats and hurting wildlife.
Many companies are using beeswax as an alternative to plastic containers and lids, there are also packaging alternatives made entirely of pulp from recycled paper. Biodegradable packaging causes little to no danger to terrestrial habitats and disintegrates in the water, this allows for fewer harmful micro particles contaminating the environment and destroying ecosystems.
What is Canada Planning?
Beginning of December, the Canadian government finally decided to enforce a ban on the manufacturing and importing of single-use plastics. Keeping Canada’s businesses in mind, the selling of single-use plastic items will be banned at the beginning of December 2023, providing companies with enough time to transition. Exporting single-use plastics will also be banned in the year 2025, making Canada the first country to do so internationally. Canadians will have more access to sustainable solutions that can range from green packaging to paper straws. This is a remarkable stepping stone to keeping our water, land and communities clean.
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Blog Image Credit: Nick Fewings
Written By: Maaya Chander