The year is 2050 and humans don't have to travel to Mars to inhabit a new land. This new habitable land mass floats on water and is made-up of synthetic polymers. What’s more, it constantly changes its position and even shape-shifts. Scientists have decided to apply Heisenberg's uncertainty principle to locate its position in a given time. Also, you will have a guaranteed lifetime supply to plastics. However, one thing is for sure, you will soon be out of food, water and air, and all you can live on is, sadly, plastic.
This might not be the reality some of us have envisioned for our future. Many of us don’t understand the rate at which we are polluting our oceans. Currently there are 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic in our ocean & 46,000 pieces in every square mile of ocean, weighing up to 269,000 tonnes. All of this plastic constitutes the five swirling patches of plastics in the great oceans. They, however, are not solid masses of land but are in fact micro-plastics vortexes that may appear as cloudy soups from space.
The plastics that end up in the ocean are subject to the extreme physical conditions in the oceans and tend to break down and release harmful chemicals. The micro-plastics, hence formed, can be as small as 5 mm. Often marine animals mistake these micro-plastics to be food and consume them. This can harm not just the aquatic ecosystem but can also enter into the food chain, if consumed by marine life.
Plastic and Periods
Regular sanitary pads are another addition to the list of ocean plastic waste. Regular single-use sanitary pads are made up of nearly 90% plastic and are non-biodegradable, they can take 600-800 years to degrade, and even then they just break down into smaller pieces of plastic.
The Menstrual Hygiene Alliance of India (MHAI) had estimated that there are nearly 336 million menstruating women in India, 36 percent of which use disposable sanitary napkins making the number to 121 million women. If a woman uses 8 sanitary napkins (approx.) per menstruation cycle, it equates to 12.3 billion disposable sanitary napkins from India alone, majority of which are non-biodegradable.
Some consumers of these products have a habit to flush them in toilets, from where they reach sewage systems and eventually get into our water bodies. Similarly, in certain rural areas, women, to avoid superstitious events, tend to dispose of their sanitary napkins into the rivers and lakes, from where they make their way to the seas and oceans.
To eliminate such habits and mindsets amongst people is a difficult task as with time these things have become normal to them and a part of their lifestyle. They can be educated and made aware through regular intervention. However, at this very moment, the best possible solution, for us as users of these products, is to stop using regular sanitary pads made of plastic and opt for more eco-friendly products like Saathi Pads that are made of natural banana and bamboo fibres. Read How Can Sanitary Pads Impact Global Sustainability?
World Oceans Day
World Oceans Day is an international day which is observed on the 8th of June every year. It aims to protect the world’s oceans and promote the sustainable use of marine resources.
This year, the theme is “Ocean: Life and Livelihoods”. It revolves around the idea that oceans support humanity and every other organism on earth and are thus our life sources. This is especially true, as scientists have discovered that life on earth began from water.
From the very smallest of marine life like algae and phytoplankton, to the large blue whales, all constitute a part of the very food chain, humans are a part of. If we harm the marine habitat, we will not only be at blame but will also become a part of the destruction through this chain. Climate change, global warming and loss of biodiversity are the major consequences of humankind’s reckless activities.
90% of marine life is still unknown to us. Scientists are constantly trying to research these species and understand their part in the food chain. Today, more than 600 marine species are impacted by these garbage patches, and that is just an estimate of the aquatic species known to us so far.
A lot of efforts are being made to restore the marine habitat and reduce the plastics in the oceans. Although these can be considered as herculean tasks, individuals, and organizations alike, are willing to take up the task of ocean conservation. Companies such as Ocean Cleanup, Ichthion and The Great Bubble Barrier are developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.
We, at Saathi, are fighting for a similar cause to protect the environment through our eco-friendly mission. By producing biodegradable sanitary pads, we are doing our bit to save our oceans from getting further polluted by plastic waste generated by sanitary products such as pads, tampons, etc. Saathi pads are 100% biodegradable and compostable as they are made out of banana and bamboo fibre. We are thus able to reduce almost 38k MT of plastic waste production, from being added to the oceanic plastic vortexes, rivers, ponds and on dump sites.
Dialogues on oceans and climate change have already begun. We, as humans, need to accept our responsibility towards the marine co-habitants of the planet. We can do so by limiting and eliminating the usage of plastics, through proper waste management and by conducting awareness campaigns.
Through the actions of many individuals, large companies such as Coca Cola are not only limiting their plastic usage but are also actively taking part in ocean clean-ups. Ocean and marine life activists are also getting others involved in their cause by involving them in clean-up drives on lakes, rivers or beaches. Organizations such as the Plastic Pollution Coalition and the Plastic Oceans Foundation are using social media and direct-action campaigns to assist individuals, manufacturers, and businesses in their efforts of transiting from toxic, disposable plastics to biodegradable or reusable materials. We at Saathi Pads are also continuously working for raising awareness towards climate change, environment preservation and sustainable living on our social media handles like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You can follow us to get regular updates on the same.
Apart from all this, on an individual level, we can learn more about oceans, marine life and the plastic patches. We can actively replace non-biodegradable plastics from our lives with eco-friendly, sustainable, biodegradable alternatives. Only by doing so can we promise a healthier and equal survival opportunity to marine life. Only thus will we be able to give back to the oceans: the source of our lives.
Every minute that you spent reading this article a truckload of garbage was dumped into our oceans .
What are your thoughts on plastics and marine life? Let us know in the comments below.
Saathi is an award winning social venture which has a patented technology to convert agri-waste into absorbent materials. Our sanitary pads are 100% biodegradable and compostable made from banana and bamboo fibers, which convert into compost in 6 months of its disposal. Saathi pads are good for the body🩸, community 🌎 and environment 🌱. We are on a mission to revolutionize the hygiene industry as a consumer products company that makes products in a sustainable and responsible way.
We are recognized by the UNESCO Green Citizens project, St. Andrews, Solar Impulse Foundation and Global Cleantech Innovation Program among others for our innovative, social impact and sustainable work. We are working towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 12, 13, 3, 9, 5, 6, 8, and 14.
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