What are the harmful effects of plastic?

How plastic affects the environment for children

But without going that far, here in our Mediterranean Sea there is a density of plastics comparable to the areas of maximum accumulation: one piece for every 4m2. This is affecting many marine species such as cetaceans, fish, birds or sharks, which are trapped in the waste or can ingest the plastic until they die.

But not only the packaging causes this problem, thousands of microplastics, among them, the microspheres present in some exfoliating products or used as vectors for medicines, slip down our sinks, bypassing the sanitation systems until they reach the sea.

As manufacturers of organic cosmetics, we always take into account not only the content of the cosmetic, but also where it is packaged and how it is presented so that the waste generated is the least, leaving no trace. This is what we would like, but what can we do? How far can we go?

When we have to choose a new container for some of our cosmetics, we don’t have much choice: either plastic or glass. We choose glass containers for some formulations, but this type of container is incompatible with more fluid creams, because it is difficult for the cream to be applied well and to be used until the end, in addition the container can break, weighs more and requires the use of a packaging to be able to ship without problems of breakage.

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Causes of plastic contamination

If the garbage truck passes by the block we apparently dispose of the package individually, although it is still a collective problem. But what happens where there is no municipal collection service? It is stored, buried or burned… in any case, it pollutes and affects people, animals and ecosystems in many ways.

Although PET is not considered a hazardous material, excessive consumption of products packaged in PET containers can cause long-term respiratory and skin problems due to the action of “phthalates”, chemical compounds added to make the plastic more flexible and durable, which can be easily released, for example, at high temperatures. When released into the liquid and ingested, these particles accumulate inside the body.

It should be remembered that most of the high biodiversity areas are surrounded by rural populations, far from the municipalities. In most of them there is no garbage collection service, although even in the most remote areas, delivery trucks from companies that sell bottled beverages (and many other packaged products) arrive and, of course, they are not responsible for the waste they generate. What do the communities do with the PET? They “save” it, bury it or burn it. As we have seen, any option is a problem.

How plastic affects the environment

In the Marine Debris Research, Prevention and Reduction Act, Congress defined the term “marine debris” as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and that is directly or indirectly, intentionally or accidentally discarded or abandoned in the marine environment and the Great Lakes.

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Marine debris affects the marine ecosystem directly, through ingestion, entanglement and ecosystem disruption, and indirectly because it contributes to the movement of invasive species. Significant economic consequences occur when marine debris harms tourism, the fishing industry and shipping. Plastic marine debris is of particular concern because of its longevity in the marine environment, the physical and chemical hazards it poses to marine life and birds, and the fact that it is often mistaken for food by birds and fish.

Although much marine debris research focuses on floating plastic debris, it is important to recognize that only about half of all plastic floats. Flotation depends on the density of the material and the presence of trapped air. After some time in the ocean, floating plastic debris can become sufficiently contaminated with biological growths that its density increases, compared to that of seawater, and it sinks.

Causes and consequences of the use of plastic bags

The problem is that these microscopic pieces, being so tiny, are entering the food chain without us even realizing it. This is one of the reasons why plastic pollution on land is higher than in the seas (between 4 and 23 times more). Therefore, land-based pollution is one of the most common and dangerous.

There are up to 5 islands of garbage in the oceans. Sea pollution is one of the most serious, as these accumulations of garbage not only remain in the ocean, but also reach the coasts, contaminating land areas, living beings, etc.

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But the problem is not only the garbage islands or places in the sea where it is very visible that there is plastic, but it is confirmed that microplastics have been found everywhere in the ocean where they have been searched, from the deepest seabed to the Arctic ice.

Plastic air pollution is something that many of us are not aware of, but the truth is that it affects our health without us even realizing it. The manufacturing itself releases a variety of toxins into the air, but in addition to this, many of the world’s plastics are burned, releasing many other toxic components that cause health problems.