Whenever we go to the market or even staying at our home, we see that more than half of the items around us are made of plastic and if we even think of not using the plastic, then it seems impossible to adopt such a lifestyle. From this point, you will obviously get very clear about how much of our life depends on plastic. Do you know, that if it will not use plastic so much, then perhaps half of our work would get difficult. But, even after knowing that plastic is deadly for our body, we do not want to throw plastic out of our world. Yeah, plastic can be used to some extent as long as it could be decomposed with ease, yet we do not want to come out of our world bound with plastics at least to some extent so that we do not get wiped out of our essentials along with maintaining a healthy environment. That’s why in the end, we are the only ones who suffer, as you are seeing how global warming, industrialization, earthquakes, floods like disasters are getting worse in the world.
BUT NO MORE, we are the responsible youth of this Country, and of course, we are going to change it with our small precious efforts and awareness. One day will come when our country will also get rid of the garbage lying here and there and the dirty roads loaded with the plastics wrappers of our eatables. If we don’t take the first step, then who else will start with us. Not anyone else, that is, You yourself will start serving for a healthy, sound, and beautiful country.
In this article, we will study about plastic and its hazardous effects on our environment although its for our school learning, but it has become a question of general awareness too against which we have to fight. As it’s our responsibility to serve for our Motherland.
What is Plastic?
Plastic is also a polymer like synthetic fibers. However, plastics have different types of arrangements of units. There are two types of arrangements in plastics one is ‘linear’ and the other is ‘cross-linked’. Plastics can be recycled, reused, re-colored, broken, and can also even beaten to transform into thin sheets and wires. Do you know why Plastic offers such a variety in any range of products whether it is polythene or a toy, from syringe body to the water buckets even the airbags in the automobiles are manufacturing through plastic, your mobile phones, tiffin box, bottle, pen, kit, bag designs everything before or behind you has something to do with plastics. And this variety of products available in plastics of different size, color, structures, due to its one of the best quality that is easily mouldable. Now, you will notice that some daily examples are clearly before you like melting of a plastic bottle put adjacent to a burner gets easily melt, however, some plastic materials give tough competition to heat and don’t get mould like safety covers over electric switches. That’s why on the basis of this property plastics are divided into two categories:
2. Thermosetting plastics
Characteristics of Plastic
- Plastic is Non-reactive, unlike iron, plastic does not get corroded if left open in the air and the water that’s why plastic bottles are also used to store chemicals.
- Plastic is Light, Strong, and Durable that’s why some materials which have been using vastly for a long time have now been replaced with plastic products like plastic water buckets and mugs.
- Plastics are Poor Conductors of heat and electricity.
- Some types of plastics are mouldable.
- Plastics can be changed into different shapes, sizes, and structures with unlimited color choices in the manufacturing process.
Plastics and the Environment
Nowadays, our environment is suffering from plastic pollution, which means plastic that ends up in the environment. In the past 100 years, humans have manufactured (and utilized) a lot of plastic that can’t even be imagined. It’s cheap, strong, durable, less bulky but all of this eventually ends up beneath the ground, in the air, and under the sea – which is where marine animals like dolphins and turtles ingest it. And not only this, terrestrial and aerial animals too become the victims of man-made environmental destruction through the plastic. Do you know that the waste heaps, that you collect everywhere are a means of getting food for street animals? With the expectation of some food they search in and out the garbage and in this processing they end up eating the polythene bags in which you wrapped up the garbage due to which their throat gets choked, their stomach gets lining which ultimately results to death. And this is not just the story of the land, seas also get affected due to the thrown garbage through industries as well. And this causes water pollution, bad health effects on aquatic animals.
The problem of garbage is not up to the animals but street drains, sewages, canals get clogged too due to improper utilization of dustbins. Our plastic waste has seized the highest rocks and bottomless marine bodies. No one knows absolutely how long it will take to disappear, but undoubtedly at least hundreds of years. Plastic takes several years to decompose as it is a slow process because it is a synthetic fiber that creates pollution in the environment.
That’s why it is suggested to use biodegradable materials instead of non-biodegradable ones so that they can be decomposed easily, and also they are environment friendly that does not produce harmful gases and toxic chemicals during decomposition. Biodegradable material can be decomposed through natural processes in a short period.
Plastic – Boon or a Curse?
It’s just up to you. You can prove the introduction of plastic as a boon for your life by making it helpful not hazardous for your health and by utilizing it properly or could also use as a curse for your life and nature by using it extensively and negligence to nature. You know problems arise when we use plastics excessively and ignore the ways and techniques of disposing of the waste. This is what is happening all around us! We might even be acting irresponsibly, knowing completely about its harmful effects.
5 R’s of Recycling
5 Steps should always be taken before recycling any product i.e. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover and Refuse.
Alternatives for Plastic:
- We should use cotton and jute bags whenever we go for shopping.
- We should change our first most thing that we use right after waking up to fresh start our morning i.e. toothbrush, which can be changed with Bamboo toothbrushes so that we can minimize the use of those plastic brushes which takes 400 years just for decomposition along with releasing toxic chemicals.
- Usage of plastic bottles is harmful, that’s why stainless steel and glass water bottles can be a better option with a vast variety of colors, designs, and styles offering in the market.
- We should not use plastic polythene bags to wrap up domestic waste as it takes thousands of years to decompose.
- Eco-Friendly Cutlery, Reusable Straws, Beeswax Wraps, Cloth Diapers, Eco-friendly Coffee Tumblers are some of the best alternatives of plastic materials that we use in our daily activities.
- We should minimize the use of plastic bags and if possible reusing them will be more beneficial.
- We should throw the garbage in a dustbin only.
- As a shopkeeper, it’s our responsibility to use paper and jute bags instead of polythenes.
- We should not use polythene bags to store eatables.
- We should throw the garbage in a dustbin only.
- We should reuse and recycle paper. Using both sides of the paper, using the blank pages in the next term by making a rough copy of the whole left pages bundle is also beneficial.
- We should spread awareness among our relatives and friends about the proper use of plastics and their hazardous effects on our environment if not taken care of properly.
Question 1: What are Polymers?
Synthetic Fibre is a chain of small units joint together and this each small unit is a chemical substance. So, Polymer is a large single unit of these chemical substances combined together. Polymers occur in nature also.
For example – cotton fibre which is made up of cellulose polymer(Nature’s most abundant polymer) which is made up of small units of glucose. Nearly 90% of the cotton fibers are cellulose.
Question 2: Define Polythene.
Polythene = poly +ethene is a type of plastic which is used in making a widely used product i.e. Polythene Bags.
Question 3: What are thermoplastics plastics? Give some examples.
Plastics which gets deformed easily on heating and can be mould and bent are known as Thermoplastics.
Example- Polythene and PVC
Question 4: Explain the quality of thermosetting plastics along with some daily life utilities.
The best quality of thermosetting plastic is that when it is moulded once then, it can not be softened by heating.
Examples- Bakelite and Melamine
In daily life, we can see the use of thermosetting plastics in the cover boards of electric switches which don not get melt due to the heat of the flowing current and electricity.
Question 5: What is Teflon? Explain in brief.
Teflon is a special plastic on which oil and water do not stick. That’s why it is used for making non-stick coating on cookwares called as Non-stick Pans and cookers.
Question 6: Why plastics are used as fire resistants?
Plastics are used as fire resistants because they are Fire-proof plastics. Although synthetic fibre catches fire easily, but uniforms of firemen have coating of melamine plastic to make them fire resistant.
Question 7: How can you say that Health Centres also uses plastic there?
Health centres also take the benefit of plastic like in packaging of tablets, stitching threads, syringes and gloves etc.