Time to get rid of our plastic trail

There is ever-growing evidence of garbage and junk following in the wake of the human race, even in space ("Boys, let's get rid of space junk"; April 19).

Garbage has been found in many natural settings. Recently, it was reported that Mount Everest is the highest garbage dump in the world ("Stink over climbers' poo on Everest"; March 5).

Tonnes of plastic bottles and packaging are floating about in the ocean ("Plastic waste dumped into ocean on Titanic scale"; Feb 15). Sea turtles and other creatures may die from accidental ingestion of such materials. These plastics are also often seen lining many a sandy beach.

The long-lasting quality of plastic means that they will remain largely unchanged for years in garbage dumps and other places, unless incinerated or recycled.

If one were to walk into any store, one would find the shelves filled with products with plastic packaging. We are told to reduce usage of plastic bags. However, it defeats the purpose when plastic packaging continues to be used for almost all products we buy.

There is no way to turn back the clock to times before plastic.

Like many products, plastic has brought us both convenience and problems.

Manufacturers should actively consider using biodegradable packaging for their products, perhaps using recycled paper products or plastic from agriculture by-products, rather than new plastic from non-biological sources.

Such companies and their distributors should place sustainability and protection and maintenance of the natural environment as part of their corporate mission and vision. We could then leave behind trails of glory with our science and technology, without trails of garbage.

This article was first published on May 10, 2015.
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