Petition for supermarkets in Singapore to stop providing plastic bags for consumers.
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Plastic bags. Many of us use this in our daily lives, but how many of us actually thought of the impact of plastic bags on the environment? When not disposed properly, plastic bags may choke the drainage system and even pollute our seas!
How much plastic is in the ocean?
Although it is difficult to identify exactly how much plastic is in the ocean due to micro-particles and the amount that has sunk to the bottom, most scientists estimate that eight million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year - adding to the estimated 150 million metric tons currently circulating our oceans.
To put that number into perspective, the amount is equivalent to a garbage truck full of plastic dumping plastic into the ocean every minute.
And that figure is only expected to increase as plastic production and consumption continue.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, in less than 10 years, scientists predict there will be 250 million metric tons in the ocean and by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish.
The world is producing almost nearly 300 tons of plastic every year and a significant amount of it ended up 'swimming' in the ocean.
The impact on the environment
Unfortunately, although plastic is a useful product, many of these products are created for single-use - with an estimated 50 per cent of plastic used once and thrown away. This is harmful to the environment and the oceans which will also have a big impact on the animal and us humans.
Here are some marine creatures and how plastic changed their lives in a bad way.
1. Sea turtles
Such adorable creatures right? Well a large number of these creatures are dying from plastic every year. Like many other marine animals, sea turtles mistake plastic waste for a viable food source, sometimes causing blockages in their digestive system. Though the declining sea turtle populations in the oceans are due to a variety of factors (most all of which involve human exploitation), plastic pollution plays a significant role.
Separate studies from 2013 suggest as many as 50 percent of sea turtles are ingesting plastic at an unprecedented rate, and dying because of it. Another study of the Loggerhead species found that 15 percent of young turtles examined had ingested such enormous quantities of plastic that their digestive system was obstructed.
2. Sea Birds
Plastic pollution leads to the deaths of millions of marine bird species each year. Arguably more so than other birds, the Laysan albatross has been deeply impacted by plastic debris through their hunting techniques. When the albatross dives into the ocean to catch fish, squid or other food they use their beak to skim the surface, picking up plastic along the way.
Shockingly, an estimated 98 percent of albatross studied are found having ingested some kind of plastic debris. Once the plastic has been ingested, it causes an obstruction in the digestive tract and can puncture internal organs.
Fish, along with pretty much any marine mammal that brings in water through its gills, are increasingly at risk to microscopic plastic debris. A study performed at the University of Exeter UK suggested that microscopic marine debris could take up to six times as long for the animal to rid themselves of in comparison to ingesting the debris orally.
Of course plastic pollution deeply impacts species of fish, but unlike other animals on our list, this is the one animal that’s also commonly eaten by humans. A number of studies suggest that the fish humans continue to consume have at one time or another ingested plastic microfibers, including brown trout, cisco, and perch.
5. Whales and Dolphins
Like other marine mammals, whales often mistakes marine debris for a potential food source. In some species, similar to that of the albatross, the whales mouth is so large it unknowingly picks up plastic debris (a technique observed in baleen whales). Necropsies performed after numerous whale strandings saw an increase in the amount of plastic debris found.
So many animals are suffering because of us! It's never too late to make a change.
What can you do?
It’s simple to apply this to your everyday life by recycling in your own home. Most public places now offer waste versus recycling options, too. If you happen to be out, and you don’t see an area for recyclables, simply ask. Worst case scenario is you’re forced to take a plastic bottle or bag home with you and recycle it on your own. Also, do bring a recyclable bag with you when you go to the supermarket.
When You Can: Just Say No
We understand that going completely plastic free is challenging for most families, but we all know plastic consumption isn’t always well, necessary. Saying no to straws, buying in bulk and bringing your own reusable bags grocery shopping are just a few of the many ways you can cut down on the amount of plastic you’re consuming.
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I believe that we can make a change. Sign this petition now so that supermarket will stop providing plastic bags at the checkout counter after hearing our voices! Do remember to share this with your family and friends!
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