The global damage from dumped plastics and alternatives

Written by Kerstin Sarow

Although the basic material ‘plastic’ possesses desirable properties for many industries including household items, its extensive use and inappropriate disposal are causing increasing concern for the environment. Landfills are piled up high with plastics, and roadside dumping causes pollution everywhere; streams and rivers often carry these materials into oceans, where an estimated 8 million tons of plastics per year are ending up. Plastic bottles and bags cause physical harm to animals and fish, which has been reported on by organizations such as Greenpeace for many years. 

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Photo Credit: Naja Bertolt

But the destruction does not stop there. Salt water causes the material to disintegrate into ‘microplastics’, which are spread out through water columns and can be found all over the world. These particles affect the airways and digestive systems of animals and humans directly and are known to cause cancer. Additionally, the soil quality of agricultural areas was found to be affected permanently, leading to a reduction in crop yielding and consequentially to the reduction of income for farmers (1).

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Photo credit: Stephan Glinka (Bund)

Furthermore, the United Nations correlated 15% of global warming to the production and disposal of plastics and issued an appeal in 2022 to all nations to implement urgently effective restrictions (2). Recycling or the use of alternative, biodegradable, and/or renewable materials has been making headlines over the past years, and now is the time for every consumer to act. Single-use items, especially plastic bags should be abolished immediately and could easily be replaced with reusable carrier and/or produce bags. That would involve a radical change in behavior for each of us, but the effects could be immediate and efficient. 

To achieve exactly that, many communal not-for-profit companies have been set up in Nepal. With a specific focus on the Kathmandu Valley some of these entrepreneurs, together with their visions, will be introduced in the next blog.

Reference:

(1) Parker, L., 2021. The world’s plastic pollution crisis explained.

Available from: https:// nationalgeographics.com [Accessed 29. March 2022].

(2) United Nation, 2022. Nations sign up to end global scourge of plastic pollution. Available from: https:// news.un.org [Accessed 29. March 2022].

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