Today, plastic is used everywhere and not only for the production of packing. The used packing and other waste get on the landfills littering the earth. Under natural conditions, paper decays within 2-5 months, stubs - from 1 year to 12 years, plastic bags decay 10-20 years, plastic packaging is hardly decomposed. The World Ocean is literally overflowed with plastic garbage, which is mostly a packing material, i.e. bottles and packages (Moore and Garratt 182). About 95 percent of the sea birds living in the North Sea have plastic garbage in their stomachs. Plastic decays to smaller particles, becoming part of the food chain, and gets into fish eating it. Fish swallow these particles, which remain in their digestive system, slowly emitting chemicals in their organisms (Acton 1023-1024).
According to the UN, plastic garbage becomes a cause of death of 1 million sea birds a year. Plastic garbage killed not only sea birds, but also a large number of sea mammals: dolphins, seals, whales, and other animals. In the ocean, the plastic package can resemble jellyfish; if it is swallowed by a turtle, for example, it can block its digestive tract or will give it a feeling of satiety; as a result, the animal will stop eating and die (Nhamo 10-11). Burning plastic garbage also dramatically damages the nature. When burning plastic waste, very toxic substances, which do harm not only to the environment, but also human health get into the atmosphere (Veiga and Kennes 130).
After using such plastic things, such as bottles, bags, packages, etc. once, people throw them into rubbish tips or landfills. Ultimately, more and more plastic waste pollutes the environment each year. After becoming a garbage, plastic things find their way into streets, waterways, beaches, and parks. Moreover, when people burn plastic, it fills the air with various toxic fumes. Landfills are always littered with various types of plastics. However, numerous microorganisms exist in these landfills. Those microorganisms fasten the process of biodegradation of plastic waste (Nhamo 10-11). However, in the course of this process, large amounts of methane, which is a kind of powerful greenhouse gas, are allocated. As a result, released gas makes a significant contribution to the global warming (Veiga and Kennes 130).
About 80% of plastic get into the seas and oceans from land. The huge amount of garbage is still growing in the Pacific Ocean. Streams created two huge garbage patches: eastern and western. Eastern patch is located between the Hawaiian Islands and the California coast. The area of this huge garbage island is twice more than the territory of Texas, and the mass of the household waste concentrated there for 90 percent consisting of plastic exceeds 3.5 million tons. The western garbage site is located to the east from Japan. The plastic waste can be landfilled, but it continues to increase in the dumps areas (Nhamo 30).
Harm of plastic for the nature is extremely enormous, because it does not decay so quickly as any other material and is capable to emit a large amount of toxins into the soil in water. Plants and berries, which have grown in the poisoned soil, can do harm not only to animals, but also humans (Foote and Mazzolini 199-206). Harm of plastic is also very dangerous to air since part of the man-made waste is burnt. Thus, the huge number of poisonous smoke, which almost completely consists of products of decomposition of chemicals and polymers, is released into the atmosphere. Besides, the huge amount of dioxides and heavy metals is formed. These substances get to the ozone layer and then fall in the form of rainfall, thereby covering the huge areas around this place. It especially concerns city landfills near settlements (Veiga and Kennes 130).
An increasing amount of garbage in the World Ocean, in particular plastic waste, led to a corresponding increase in intensity of penetration of invasive species to the regions where their existence was not noted before. As a result of environmental pollution by plastic garbage, the possibilities of distribution of alien species considerably increased. The problem of "biotic mixing" caused by human activity became widespread. On a firm surface of subjects of plastic garbage, the attractive alternative environment for development of many organisms is created. Invasive species can lead to catastrophic consequences for native species and biological diversity and the growth of environmental pollution by synthetic materials, which are resistant to biological decomposition, will accelerate this process (Foote and Mazzolini 199-206).
If people do not to limit the consumption of not recycled plastic now, the area of ocean garbage patches, which are already huge, can be doubled in the next decade. Reduction of the use of plastic packing or its recycling can change the situation. The significant contribution to the reduction of the amount of waste can be made by the wide use of paper packing, because paper is an environmentally friendly material and the paint brought on it can do harm to environment only.
Each person can make a small contribution to the reduction of amount of plastic waste. First of all, it is necessary to leave as little as possible garbage in vacation places, no matter whether it is a forest, park, or beach. Household waste should be placed only in containers specially intended for this purpose, i.e. people should not make unauthorized dumps. When buying goods and products in shops, it is worth paying attention to their packing, giving preference to ecologically safe ones. If there is a choice, people should swear off purchasing products in plastic packing. Going to the store, it will be better to take one’s own bag in order to avoid buying a new plastic package. At last, consumers should try to buy the products packaging of which can be recycled or reused.