When it comes to pollution, humans have left no area uncovered. Be it soil, water or even air. If you look around, you will realise that the soil you live upon, the water you drink or the air you breathe, are all contaminated. Oceans and seas are filled with hazardous substances that devastate the lives of marine creatures. Studies suggest that about 700 species of sea animals could go extinct because of pollution affecting marine life. Among other things, the major constituent of such pollution is ‘plastic’. Did you know that between 60 to 90 percent of the litter that accumulates on shorelines, the surface, and the seafloor is made up of plastic?
According to a report by the United Nations,
- There will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050.
- In 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 300 million tons of plastic, which is equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.
- An estimate shows about 99 percent of all seabirds will have ingested plastic by mid-century.
- There could be about 51 trillion microplastic particles in the sea already.
Source: Waste Management World
Plastic has become an integral part of human lives and disposal of plastic waste in the ocean is increasing everyday. Until we put an end to single-use plastics, we continue to endanger the lives of these innocent sea animals along with our own. Because when seafood is served at our table, the pollutants consumed by marine species, enter the human food chain as well.
What Is Plastic Doing to Sea Animals?
The life-threat that plastics put on marine life is immeasurable. Some of the sea animals are already extinct while others are on the verge of extinction. If this plastic menace is not put to a stop soon, mankind will lose these beautiful creations of nature in no time. Some of the ill-effects of plastics on sea animals are:
- Plastics disrupt the nutrient balance in the oceans.
- Plastics destroy coral reefs.
- Plastics hamper the growth of algae and plankton.
- Innocent sea animals mistake plastic debris for food and eat them, causing choking health hazards to them.
- Sea turtles, Hawaiian Monk Seals, Whales, and Dolphins are some of the most affected marine species.
Plastic waste can take about 500-1,000 years to decompose. It is high time that we put a ban on the use of plastics and start shifting to alternatives that are more sustainable than plastics. Some would suggest the use of paper bags, but they fail to realize that there is an environmental cost attached to paper bags also. The creation of paper bags requires paper as raw material which is obtained at the expense of trees.
So, what are the other options we have? One such option is the use of Hemp. Hemp is a sustainable, carbon positive and eco-friendly alternative to plastic. Hemp plastics can be easily molded into any shape and are more durable.
How will Hemp Save the Sea Animals-
1. Hemp plastic is Biodegradable:
One of the reasons that plastic has become unpopular is because of its long shelf-life, plastics take years to decompose. It is just a pollutant creating health hazards. Even your favorite Tupperware takes years to decompose once you discard it.
Hemp plastic, on the other hand, is made from biodegradable polymers. In contrast to the conventional plastic, hemp plastic is absolutely chemical-free and not a constant source of pollution to the environment. It can be recycled indefinitely and takes about 3-6 months to decompose. Even if you don’t recycle hemp plastics, it is not a threat to nature as it will continue to break down into its basic form in no time and decompose.
2. Hemp plastic is completely non-toxic:
The chemical-free nature of hemp plastic makes it non-toxic. Even if these plastics enter the seas, it will not be a hazard to sea animals. The conventional plastics contain harmful endocrine disruptors. These are hazardous chemicals that when ingested, negatively affect the digestive system of marine species and humans, because of the link in the food chain. Some of the diseases related to endocrine disruptors are- tumors, birth defects, cancer, etc.
Hemp plastic is, however, free from such sort of life-endangering chemicals. The non-toxic nature of hemp makes it an ideal replacement for plastic to save the sea animals.
3. Hemp plastic is Carbon negative:
Hemp crop absorbs carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere. The presence of excessive carbon dioxide in the environment leads to global warming. The oceans absorb most of the excessive heat generated as a result of global warming. Which in turn increases the temperature in the oceans, causing life-threatening damage to marine species.
By reducing carbon footprint, hemp not only decreases the ocean temperature but also prevents ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is caused by the decrease in the pH levels of the ocean which is a result of the increase in the levels of carbon-dioxide. Right from cultivation to production, hemp offers a bouquet of benefits for the environment.
4. Hemp plastic is versatile:
Hemp can be molded into any shape you want. Its versatility is one of the reasons that has made hemp plastic so popular. Electronics, toys, car parts, furniture, bags, are just some of the many things that can be made from hemp plastics. Why use conventional plastics and pollute the environment when you can shift to a more sustainable alternative?
5. Hemp plastics do not pollute the sea beds:
Unlike the fossil-fuel-based plastics, hemp plastics are much more eco-friendly and do not endanger the lives of sea animals. Because of its non-toxic nature, it does not cause indigestion in sea animals. Hemp plastics are highly degradable and do not sit on the sea beds for years before decomposing. Hemp is the answer to a cleaner and greener plastic.
Hemp plastics are a wonderful way to save the lives of sea animals. It is not only a sustainable alternative to plastic but also a ‘super plant’. Hemp cultivation puts less pressure on Earth as it requires very less amount of water and land in comparison to its counterparts.
It can easily grow in abundance under diverse circumstances and without pesticides. Not only this, hemp contains about 65-70 percent of cellulose, which makes it a great raw material for plastic. And also the production process of hemp plastics is less polluting than petroleum-based plastics.
But even with so many remarkable properties, the mass use of hemp plastics is still an uncommon sight. Though slowly people are becoming conscious of their responsibility towards the environment, yet they’re still stands a major portion of the population who remain oblivious to the damage caused to nature.
It is the need of the hour to create awareness and save the sea animals from further extinction. More and more people must opt for hemp plastics instead of conventional plastics to save the planet.