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Category Page: Lifeline

Schools to axe single use plastics in 2018

All schools in the Maldives will eliminate single-use plastics by by the end of 2018, the education minister said, with several schools already banning disposable plastics in their premises. Minister Dr Aishath Shiham made the pledge at a school ceremony held in Villimalé to mark the end of a reef study and awareness program run by the ministry.
Single-use plastics or disposable plastics are items like bags, straws, coffee stirrers, bottles and food packaging that are used once and thrown away.
“Since the start of March, we have started work on eliminating single-use plastics from all the schools. God willing, by the end of March, we will eliminate the use of disposable plastics,” Aishath said, according to Sun Online.
The minister said efforts were underway to find replacements for single-use plastics, such as cloth bags.
Advocacy director for Ecocare Maldives, Maeed Mohamed Zahir, welcomed the pledge by the education minister.
“Reducing plastics especially bringing an end to single-use plastic is necessary and having the initiative at school level is helpful to raise awareness and change behavioural patterns,” he told the Maldives Independent. “Schools can also work on limiting the amount of paper waste that is produced and has in-school composting practices to manage waste in-school.”

Plastic Facts – Raise Awareness in Schools

 Initiative at school level is helpful to raise awareness and change behavioural patterns. Schools can work on limiting the amount of paper waste that is produced and introduce composting practices to manage waste in-school.”

PLASTIC FACTS

  •  5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris now exist in the ocean.
  • 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year. That amounts to being ore than one million bags are used every minute. Single-use plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes. One percent of these are recycled.
  • 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away. Examples: drinking straws, personal sized water bottles, soda bottles, coffee cup lids, plastic drink containers, plastic cutlery and take-out containers (to name a few).
  • 10 percent of plastic is recycled.
  • Synthetic fabrics when washed add plastic fibers into the drains which will ultimatimately reach the ocean. A fleece jacket will loose 2000 peices.
  • 100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are the ones found.
  • 44 percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies. Adult salmon eat 90 microplastic pieces a day while humpback whales take in 300,000.
  • Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by animals. Some of these compounds found in plastic have been found to alter hormones or have other potential health effects.  These chemicals are landing up on our dinner plates.
  • By eating seafood humans can consume 11,000 tiny particles every year. Micro plastics have been found in  90 percent of popular brands of bottled water. Plastic can even cross  from the blood  into the human brain or cross the placenta to adversely affect unborn babies.

Plastics Disrupting the Marine Ecosystem

“Reducing plastics especially bringing an end to single-use plastic is necessary and having the initiative at school level is helpful to raise awareness and change behavioural patterns,” he told the Maldives Independent. “Schools can also work on limiting the amount of paper waste that is produced and has in-school composting practices to manage waste in-school.”
Plastic does not biodegrade, but it does break down into tiny toxic little bits that pollute the soil and our waterways. The sun’s rays have capabilities in its ultraviolet light (UV light) and infrared radiation which brings about the incorporation of oxygen molecules into the plastic, a process known as oxidation.
As more and more oxygen intermingles with the polymer in the plastic, it becomes brittle and easier to break into ever diminishing pieces.  This process, called photodegration, is accelerated by physical friction, such as being blown across a beach or rolled by waves. Floating beneath the surface of the water, to a depth of ten metres, was a multitude of small plastic flecks and particles, in many colours, swirling like snowflakes or fish food.
A recent study conducted at  the Vancouver Aquarium, documented approximately 4000 particles of microplastics per cubic meter of the Straight of Georgia seawater. Other researchers have found six times more plastic than plankton in the ocean. A range of animals throughout the marine environment, including corals and zooplankton, consume these particles. Recent studies have found that microplastics can indeed be passed up the ocean food web to accumulate in fish and other larger marine animals. Plastic particles become coated with algae and bacteria. The fish are attracted the bioouled plastic because the algae gives off sulfuric smell.
The human population are eating toxin-saturated plastics these contaminated marine organisms. As plastic to plankton ratio increases, the deeper the penetration of plastic into the food web.  One study estimates that returning salmon ingest up to 90 plastic particles a day — particles that might contain endocrine inhibitors and carcinogens. Also plastic in the ocean act as a chemical “sponge” that soaks up and stores potentially harmful chemicals.
The only good news is that are some microorganisms which are able to metabolise it when is becomes small enough and convert it to carbon dioxide (CO2) or absorb it into their own biomolecules. However this is an incredibly lengthy process, often taking as much as 50 years or more for the sun to completely break down the plastic and for the microbes to assimilate the polymer molecules. Molecules of conventional plastic are also gigantic, making them extra difficult to digest. Each is composed of literally thousands of repeating units called “monomers” so that the weight of a finished polymer molecule is typically over ten thousand (for comparison, the weight of a single water molecule is eighteen). The simplest is polyethylene (e.g., grocery bags, ketchup and shampoo bottles), which is just an enormous string of carbon atoms with attached hydrogen atoms.
The oceans are truly the life blood of all life on this planet.
oceans cover ¾ of the planet and
hold 97% of the earth’s water and
ocean’s phytoplankton produce ½ the world’s oxygen
As well as producing half of world’s oxygen, phytoplankton provide the primary food source for the zooplankton and together, they form the base of the oceanic food chain. Much larger zooplankton, fish and mammals all depend on these plankton for their survival. These phytoplankton also play a critical role in sequestering carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere and releasing oxygen into the water, but they depend on the marine ecosystem. At least 20% of our oxygen comes from phytoplankton in the Salish Sea (formerly called the Georgia Straight). Whale excrement is responsible for fertilizing phytoplankton, so when there is the fewer whales there are the less phytoplankton.