EDITORIAL | Everyone can help tackle plastic crisis


Plastic pollution is a frightening reality around the globe. It may not be a “sexy” subject or grab headlines, but, unless we act now, the world we leave to our children will be in a far worse shape than the one we are now living in, which in turn is a lot more polluted than the one in which we grew up. That much is clear by the deluge of information science is producing on this subject. Now comes the news that even places once presumed to be pristine have been affected by microplastic pollution.
Scientist Dr Steve Allen, who has been working in Nelson Mandela Bay, has been involved in research showing that microplastics have been found on the peaks of the French Pyrenees.
As a coastal city, Port Elizabethans should be well aware of the dangers of ocean pollution.
When bottles, plastic bags and the like eventually break down into tiny pieces they do not disappear, but become microplastics.
Whereas the original item is visible waste which can be picked up and disposed off properly, it is much harder to find and remove microplastics.
It is well documented that airborne particles can settle in large quantities in urban settings. However, it is a shock to discover that a scenic summit in one of Europe’s most famous mountain ranges is also polluted in this way.
Residents of Nelson Mandela Bay should not simply shrug their shoulders and say, “That is miles away from me, why should I care?” because Allen’s research shows every single speck of the earth may be under threat.
It, therefore, is no stretch of the imagination to say the mountains around us – which significantly are also our water catchment areas – may be affected in a similar way.
And this matters because in the long term it may be bad for our health.
Legislation may help but at the most basic level it is individual people – like you and me – who will make the most positive impact on plastic pollution through lifestyle choices. It will take action at the micro level to solve a problem of macro proportions.

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