The dead whale had a message in its tummy
When the world’s largest mammal was washed ashore on Juhu beach, Mumbai, millions across India read the news and talked, tweeted, updated their Facebook pages, and felt sorry for it. I searched on the Net for more news. The front page results on Google gave me a shock. It wasn’t just one whale in Juhu; there were over 40 in Tamil Nadu. Not only that, in the last two months many dead whales had floated across to shores around the globe including in cities across the United States, England, and Australia.
Puzzled, I searched for a reason and soon realised that the fishes that were dying on the shores were bringing a message for the human race. ‘The plastic that you have discarded over the years is accumulating in the oceans, mixing in our foods, and killing us. One day, it will get you too...’
I read a bit more about plastic and learnt that a disturbing announcement was made by World Economic Forum (WEF), who found that almost a third of all the plastic used by humans leaked into the environment. If the plastic is not reused, recycled, put in landfill, or eaten by an animal, it ends up in the sea. The WEF report further said: ‘If no action is taken, the plastic in sea is expected to increase to two truck-fulls per minute by 2030 and four truck-fulls per minute by 2050. In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish.’
Interestingly, we all know where this plastic is coming from. Plastics are used to make countless everyday products – from bottles to auto bumpers, from notebook covers to toys... almost every second thing in the house is plastic. Worse still, every household today is generating more plastic trash than ever, and very little of it gets recycled. Plastic bottles lying in the gutter, grocery bags tangled on tree branches, packed-food wrappers scuttling across the ground on a windy day are common-enough sights, especially in India. Most of us know that plastics and their by-products are littering our streets, roads, and waterways, contributing to health problems in humans and animals on land and life within the oceans. Plastics do not easily degrade. They may break down, but only into smaller pieces, which in fact is more dangerous.
Yet, even as we grapple with the threats from plastic to future generations, making a few simple lifestyle changes can be our bit towards saving the whale, the environment, and the human race in the long run. The best solution is to prevent more plastic from reaching the ocean, and it can be done only if the plastic waste is reduced at its source.
As consumers of multiple products, we may start becoming aware of packaging and buy items that use less of plastic. Skip the plastic bags, including zippered pouches, boxes, and trays used for foods and fruits. Invest in reusable water bottles and say no to straws. Talk to your child into avoiding plastic toys (they’ll love you for this when they grow up).
As we live in an era of convenience, we find it convenient to throw things away when we are done with them. However, we need to stop looking at plastic as disposable and need to view plastic items as durable things to hold on to, reuse, and recycle.