Jaehee Park Portola High School 9th grade
According to Kristin Hughes (Director, Global Plastic Action Partnership), COVID-19 has increased the use of plastic tremendously.
Much of this increase comes from the increased demand for single use items, such as in the food service industry. Additionally, there is obviously a large demand for single use face masks which have flooded the environment.
First of all, what is plastic pollution? Every day, we use plastic for our own comfort, and it is now the most used material on our planet as an affordable and abundant.
Many things are made with it, such as utensils, plastic bags, plastic chairs, etc. On this planet, about five trillion plastic bags are used per year, in other words, 160,000 plastic bags per second. This proves that this isn’t just a small problem, but something that will take years to fix.
Disposed of plastic, including masks, body bags, gloves, etc. that we have used to protect ourselves from the corona virus can go down drains and into the ocean if it isn’t thrown away properly.
In February 2020, the use of single mask production skyrocketed to 116 million per day in only China, about 12 times the amount before.
Although many people feel safe from the virus through the use of plastic, it takes decades for plastic to decompose.
Part of the problem is most of the US doesn’t recycle their plastic. In addition to this, the system for recycling plastic is imperfect and inefficient.
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, only 5% of plastic was in the correct condition to be recycled in 2021, due to problems of plastic contamination. The pandemic has not helped the situation, but in fact, made it worse.
Even though it may take years, we can do little things that lead up to a big, positive effect.
Saving the environment can be as simple as using reusable/recyclable materials, using fewer single use items, and shopping in bulk amounts. If awareness is brought to plastic recycling rules in different areas, some plastic can be discarded.
Again, since this is a big problem, it will not be easy to change. Everyone needs to pitch in to change the world and save the planet. One little action made by one person, adding up to billions of other good actions, will flip the table to make the problem decline. As we do this, the planet will thrive, and so will we.
<Jaehee Park Portola High School 9th grade