Plastic – you are banned!

On the 3rd of July 2021, the ban on using single-use plastic came into effect in the EU. The European Parliament’s ban aims to prevent and reduce the impact of plastic products on the environment, especially sea life. Is it finally time for a change?

One hundred years from now, we will walk on water. Do you know why? 

There will be so much plastic garbage in the ocean! It would be possible to stand on the trash and even walk on it to the other side of the bay. We don’t have to wait that long to see how it might look like. Every day we can observe the tragic effects of plastic pollution. Imagine yourself an enormous floating island made of marine debris. It already exists – the Great Pacific garbage patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world. It has 80,000 tons of plastic and is about 1,6 million square kilometres in size – 62 times the Macedonia area. The infamous patch mentioned here is not the only one in the ocean. If no measures are taken, we could forget about the holiday at the seaside in the blink of an eye. There will be more toxic waste in the seas than fish, and who would like to put one’s life in danger?

Every year on the 3rd of July, International Plastic Bag Free Day is celebrated. This year the date is significant. The EU’s directive on single-use plastics, adopted in June 2019, was finally brought in. Single-use plastics are products used once or for a short time before being thrown away. The directive points to 10 items that will purge from the EU markets. For other single-use plastic products, the EU is focusing on limiting their use. Plastic bags, cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws and stirrers, balloons and sticks for balloons, polystyrene food and beverage containers, cigarette butts, packets and wrappers, wet wipes, and sanitary items – they will all vanish from the store shelves soon. Most of us use them every day. Can we live without these items? Probably not everyone, but everyone can find more eco-friendly products and replace the ones which cause littering. An average of 30 million disposable bags is consumed in 15 minutes. Every minute more people get another 2 million. Each bag will be in use for approximately 15 minutes. Then they will be thrown away to litter our planet for several hundred years. When you go to the grocery store, take a cloth or paper bag. You want to drink a fancy drink with a straw – use a metal or bamboo straw. If you’re going to pack leftovers – try glass containers. Many simple solutions can help to save the planet. 

Super invention or a curse? Plastic is the real challenge of the 21st century. It was supposed to help us live more comfortably and hygienically, while by 2050, there will be more of it in the oceans than fish. The ban on using single-use plastic is a significant step forward, but also awareness is needed.

It may take you a little over 2 minutes to read this article. During this time, more than 4 million single-use bags were consumed. Next time you go to the store, think twice about what you want to buy. If you’re going to see the change and save our planet, you must first change your habits.

Jolanta Ciopcińska

Sources:
European Commission: Single-use plastics
The Ocean Cleanup: The Great Pacific garbage patch
Plastic Oceans: Plastic Pollution Facts

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