**********This is my first post this year from a guest writer, yay!!!!!!!!!!!
On my way to work on one of those days, I saw a perilous site. It was not in all unique. It was just another blocked drainage. The only amazement was the reason for the blockade. It was a pile of nothing else but plastic bottles. It was as though everyone in the neighbourhood agreed to all dump their used plastic bottle on that same spot. It was a gathering caused by improper disposal of plastic waste. The Earth Day marked on April 22, 2018, was tagged “End Plastic Pollution”. Plastic pollution is prevalent today in Nigeria. Pure water, bottled water, plastic drinks, etc are major sources of this scourge. Plastic waste can be seen on every street, in drainages and canals, in refuse dumps, everywhere you go. I wonder why the accidental discovery of Charles Goodyear and Charles Schonbein should be a curse to us instead of a huge blessing.
There is almost nothing wrong with plastic when it is appropriately used and disposed; take note of those words- appropriately used and disposed. That’s where the problem sits. Here’s an example of inappropriate use- many plastics contain phthalates (DEHP) and chemical BPA (Bisphenol A). These kinds of plastics should not be used for food storage as the chemicals can mix with the food and cause the food to become toxic. The long-term effect of plastic poisoning in human are chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, adult-onset diabetes, impaired brain and neurological functions, early puberty, cardiovascular system damage, resistance to chemotherapy, obesity and more. Food must not be heated in the microwave oven in a container that is not designed to be used in microwave oven as the radiation might act on the plastic and cause the content to be carcinogenic. Click the link for plastic tableware symbols: http://athome.kimvallee.com/a-need-for-tableware-symbols/
When plastic is not properly disposed, the effect is everywhere. The land mass is contaminated. Most plastics in circulation are synthetic. They will remain in the soil forever and they will not decay. They get washed into our water bodies and become a threat to aquatic life. These organisms die as a result of suffocation and plastic poisoning and some of these poisons are later brought back to us as we partake in the delicious sea food. What goes around comes around, right?
The future of the earth is uncertain with the continuous increase in the rate of plastic pollution. With about 6 billion tonnes of plastic waste already existing in landfills, and a projection of about 13.2 billion tonnes in the next 30 years, the earth is doomed if appropriate measures are not taken to reduce these wastes.
What should we do?
A global change can be achieved when we make concerted efforts to control the alarming growth of plastic pollution.
Let us apply the 5 Rs.
Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle, Remove.
Reduce: we can simply reduce the use of plastic material, we can find alternatives like cotton bags, that have a longer life span; we can find a healthier alternative for pure water (this is possible). We can buy water purifiers and purify our own water and keep in longer lasting plastic or metallic containers.
Refuse: when shopping, we can go with our own bags and refuse all the plastics bags given when buying groceries. Yes, I know we like to pose with the branded bags but do we really need a separate bag for almost every item, then a master-bag to hold it all? Next time, you go shopping, watch out for the number of plastic bags you’re getting and see if you can cut it down by packing stuff together. The checkout clerks will secretly pray for you for making their lives a bit easier, mother nature will smile on you and your home will have less clutter to deal with. Win-Win-Win.
Reuse: we can use old plastic bags obtained during the previous shopping. Owners of stores can start selling plastic bags at a rate to discourage their use (but educate your customers before you try to pull this off so business doesn’t walk out the door!). Used table water and drink bottles can also be given out to people who reuse them.
Recycle: Instead of throwing away plastic waste, we can simply hand them over to companies that will turn them into other products or recycle them for the same use. An alternative to recycling is proper disposal. Don’t throw plastic waste out of the vehicle; hold on to empty plastic bottles and sachets and dispose them at the next bin you find. Say no to littering. This might also help plastic scavengers to find them and take them away for appropriate use.
Remove: as we apply the other Rs over time, there will come a time when we will be able to apply this R. The complete removal of plastic materials from circulation is achievable.
Let us do what we can to preserve the home God has put us in. God’s command is to replenish the earth and not to lay it to waste.
Yoloye Oyerinde is passionate about environmental matters, sustainable living and livelihoods. He is a power solution consultant. He seeks to see clean energy delivered to homes and businesses in Nigeria and all other nations of Africa
P.s You can read more of Yoloye's post: I better pass my neighbour
P.s.s I warmly welcome write-ups. If you would like to contribute, please reach me via email; email@example.com or via twitter @gladysdurojaiye
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