Save the world – plastic facts

Written by Erin Jacobs, age 15, who has been part of our Conservation Leadership Programme since 2015. She is a budding environmental champion, and this is how she thinks we can start to Save The World! “Do you want to save the world? How? Get rid of plastic. I know we all have heard people talk about how bad plastic is and most of us choose to ignore, but I’m going to give you the facts on plastic. These facts will make you think twice before buying or throwing away plastic wrapped items. Did you know that 73% of beach litter worldwide is plastic? Could you even imagine how much plastic that is? All stocked in the beautiful beaches around the world. If you don’t care about that just picture going to the beach and it being filled with plastic. If that’s too difficult watch Aquaman it gives a pretty decent idea on what our beaches will look like. That’s right will look like. There are 2 million plastic bags that are used every minute and 4 million plastic bottles are bought every minute and it’s been predicted to increase by 20% in 2021. Now you might be asking yourself, how does this affect you? Besides the obvious reasons. Due to there being so much plastic the animals you eat swallow plastic and if some do not die the plastic or rather fragments that are no longer than 5 mm, called microplastics are swallowed by fish and then when the fish is caught those microplastics are still inside of them. This brings me to my next point. The average person eats 70 000 microplastics per annum. This causes health problems. Microplastics are also found in water, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a vegan or vegetarian. They are even found in your beauty products! An average South African uses 30kg to 50kg of plastic per year. South Africa does not contribute towards the pollution of plastic as much as other countries, but that doesn’t mean we cannot do better. We make change by starting small. Invest in reusable straws and join clean-ups. Separate your plastic, it’s not that hard. Women and young girls can buy reusable sanitary pads or a moon cup. Take your own bag to the supermarket. Try to choose items that don’t have a lot of packaging. Donate your old toys and recycle or reuse old containers. Also, don’t litter! You can be an eco-warrior just by trying. We all have to work together to strive for better. We need the environment to be able to sustain life. To sustain us. The environment does not need us. Therefore we are responsible for it. Our actions have consequences. Remember nothing worthwhile comes easy.”