Burning garbage in the open releases many toxins, such as dioxins, acids, sulfur dioxide, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (better known as BCPs), and heavy metals. These can have long-lasting impacts on our ecosystem by damaging vegetation and are proven to affect human health to a great extent.
“We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to.” – Terri Swearingen
The above statement precisely points out the current predicament—garbage.
Garnering all the world’s attention, this awful thing is creating a menace in countless ways. It is polluting oceans, damaging the ecosystem, and making our beautiful pale blue dot filthier with every passing day. Garbage is simply the trash that we have produced. Now, with nowhere to put it, garbage is impacting our lives at an unbelievable pace.
With all this in front of us, it’s only fair if we get rid of it, right? Why don’t we simply burn the trash, bury it underground, or even put all that trash to use?
What is garbage exactly?
Vaguely classified as either man-made or natural waste, garbage falls into either of these categories. Everything that earth has provided free of cost is considered to be a part of natural waste. Wood, rubber, vegetable waste, flowers, leaves and so much more.
Nature not only provides us with these luxuries, but has also planned a way for them to get back into the cycle. Microbes! Thee microscopic helpers break down every single organic waste product into simple molecules that are reabsorbed by nature itself. Amazing, right?
Man-made waste refers to everything that humans have created and disposed of. Plastic, metal dispensers, e-waste, pens, paper etcetera. It comprises both organic (carbon-based products) and inorganic materials.
However, the major percentage of this is plastic, which is our prime concern at present. Plastic pollution is driving the entire world crazy. Why is that? Let’s proceed to find out!
What are plastics and why are they a problem?
Plastics are polymers, i.e., they are chains of a group of atoms or molecules called monomers. These monomers include carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur.
They have become such an essential part of our lives that it’s nearly impossible for us to avoid them now. The very chewing gum you eat may contain plastic. Soda cans have a plastic lining on aluminum in order to prevent corrosion. In fact, even tea bags, paper cups and biodegradable cutlery are not a safe bet. Some scientists predict that since the ocean is flooded with microplastics, and is also a major source of salt, our common table salt might just be contaminated by those microplastics. Shocked?
Plastics are stretchable, can be molded into any shape without hassle, are water-resistant and have a high tensile strength among their other properties. Plastics are popular because of these varied properties. However, every coin has two sides. These are the very same properties that make plastic such a worrisome problem.
Plastics don’t decompose, i.e., nature’s microbes cannot act upon these to break them down into simpler molecules that can be absorbed. Thus, plastics do not fall back into any natural cycle, so they just stay in the environment forever. They float in the oceans, are mistaken for food by animals and birds, and are accumulating in the landfills. Researchers already predict that by 2050, we’ll have more plastic in the ocean than fish!
While we have shifted our attention in a major way towards plastic, organic and other man-made wastes are complicated issues too!