Plastics have transformed the world with life-saving medical gadgets, enabled space flights, lightened automobiles and planes reducing fuel consumption and pollution, saved lives with helmets, incubators and equipment for safe drinking water. However, our own innovations are starting to take an impinging turn on our lives. Not just us, also the ecosystem we live in. Its use in our daily lives is being reconsidered in communities all across the world. The conveniences that plastics provide have resulted in a throw-away attitude that showcases the material's dark side as they can endure hundreds of years in the environment. The masses of plastic reportedly invading every depth and corner of our oceans, the effects of microplastic on animals and evidence of plastic in our bloodstreams have all reached crisis proportions.
According to the Greenpeace report, 10% of 260 million tonnes of plastic the world produces per year gets dumped into the sea annually.
More than 9 billion tonnes of plastic have been made over the past decades, and much of it is becoming trash and litter, finds the first analysis of the issue.
Only 9% of the plastic ever created has been recycled, 12% has been incinerated (polluting the air with toxic gases) and the rest 79% remains in the environment.
Considering the world’s population of 7.53 billion people that makes roughly 29.4 billion toothbrushes each year. Humanity produces 600 million kilograms of plastic toothbrush waste in only 365 days.
Fish, Mollusks and sea animals have been discovered to contain chemicals used in plastic production such as phthalates and flame retardants. 100 percent of Marine Turtles, 59 percent of Whales, and 40 percent of Seabirds have evidence of marine plastic pollution in their bodies and organs, according to a research published in the Annual Review of Marine Science. “It is disconcerting that we have found microplastic in the gut of every single animal we have investigated in this study”, said Penelope Lindeque, from Plymouth Marine Laboratory, as per PTI. Synthetic fibers made up around 84 percent of the microplastics discovered in the intestines of the marine animals examined. Clothing, fishing nets, and toothbrushes can all contain these contaminants.
Plastic will dominate fish in the water by 2050, according to the Ellen McArthur Foundation, if we do not combat plastic pollution in our seas. According to research company McKinsey & Co., there will be one metric tonne of plastic for every three metric tonnes of fish in 2025, if we continue on our current path. Not just marine life, even the bacteria. Plastic in the seas also affects Prochlorococcus, the marine bacteria that produces 10% of the world’s oxygen, according to research published in the journal Communications Biology.
Researchers have found plastic in the stomachs of 44% of all Seabird species, 78.9% of Cetacean species and 100% of Sea Turtle species.
Every year, over 300 million tonnes of plastic are manufactured across the world. Most individuals go through a handful of toothbrushes every year, given that dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months. At first glance, this may not appear to have a significant influence, but consider how many people live in our world, and how quickly a few brushes are thrown out every minute adds up.
Blend of toxic chemicals
Plastic toothbrushes are produced from a mix of crude oil-derived plastic, rubber and a plastic cardboard mix for packaging. The problem isn’t simply with brush disposal. A variety of hazardous plastic by-products, as well as petroleum and crude oil are used in the production of plastic toothbrushes.
Consequences for an eternity
They last eternally in landfills. The existence of plastic toothbrushes stains landfills. They leak toxins into the air as they sink into the landfill. As a result, the ecosystem suffers even greater harm. Plastic has penetrated toothbrush design to the point that it’s virtually impossible to brush our teeth without coming into contact with a polymer. Almost all plastic toothbrushes are made from Polypropylene and Nylon which are non-renewable.
Most of us will replace 300 toothbrushes in life and the bitter truth is they are not recyclable because the composite plastic used to make them doesn’t break down well, causing chunks to become trapped in recycling equipment. It accounts for over 50 million toothbrushes ending up in landfills annually. It has also been found that single-use plastics accounted for around 25% of the debris. Toothbrushes, food containers, straws and plastic bags were among the easily identifiable plastic items discovered by the researchers.
As plastic is virtually indestructible, practically every toothbrush produced since the 1930s is still alive and lingering out there in the globe as a piece of garbage.
Plastic toothbrushes are unquestionably convenient and cost-effective for the vast majority of individuals. Most people’s lives have got accustomed to using plastic toothbrushes. But this seems to have triggered far-reaching consequences. While most individuals attempt to drive more environmentally friendly automobiles or sort their recycling more carefully each week, differences can be made even through the smallest ways.
Switching their everyday plastic-wares to more eco-friendly ones is one of them. In today’s world, where plastic toothbrushes are the standard, many people find it difficult to comprehend the necessity for wooden toothbrushes. But it is definitely worth it, if you’re attempting to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Are they truly superior to a plastic version?
Indeed they are…..!
Bamboo toothbrushes are considered environmentally beneficial since they do not need the combustion of gases, crude oil or coal, as plastic toothbrushes do. Moreover, its production doesn’t require massive expensive technology. Many customers wonder how effective a wooden toothbrush is in comparison to a plastic brush. The argument that these bristles are just as effective as their standard nylon counterparts is backed up by major toothbrush merchants and dental specialists. The good news is that when used as suggested, wooden toothbrushes outlast regular plastic toothbrushes.
Wooden toothbrushes are very safe and sanitary. Bamboo is inherently antibacterial, which is one of the reasons why millions of people are switching from standard plastic toothbrushes to bamboo brushes. Many scientists and conservationists, like the National Geographic Society, believe the solution is source control in other words to curb the production in the first place. Enhanced waste management and recycling, better product design that considers the short life of disposable packaging and a reduction in the manufacture of needless single-use plastics might all help achieve this goal.
We need to fixate on long-term goals rather than focusing on short-term goals. As an individual everyone has a role to play in the plastic-free journey and it may seem small but the ripple effects of small things are tremendous. It’s time that we step in and do something about our consumption habits to curb the plastic footprint in the environment. We need to empower our next generation as well to build a better future.
The legacy we leave for the earth must make it more sustainable for the future generations, rather than disrupting its integrity through environmental crises.