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More plastic was produced over the past 10 years than during the entire 20th century. About half of that is single-use plastic and is thrown away immediately after consuming. As per recent studies, about 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally each year. The plastic that gets simply trashed, an estimated amount of seven million pounds of it end up in oceans. Only 10 per cent of this is recycled for other commercial uses.

The UAE is believed to have one of the highest rates of bottled water consumption in the world, with each resident drinking an average of 250 litres of bottled water every year. Plastic consumption over the years has increased quite rapidly. To produce a single plastic bottle of one litre it takes about three litres of water and half a litre of oil, while that same plastic bottle takes over 1000 years to degrade.

About 8 – 10 per cent of the total intake of plastic bottles gets recycled annually. Recycling plastic bottles can help benefit the environment in various ways. I have recycled a total of 400 kgs of plastic bottles in the past four years (more than 5,500 bottles).

Sadly, 54 per cent of the 120 marine species on the threatened list have been observed entangled in or ingesting plastic, as the cause of death. We humans know how to use plastic but fail to understand how to dispose it. People find single use plastics cheaper and convenient. The disposal of this plastic in open grounds, parks, deserts and beaches not only cause harm to the land but also for the species and organisms who consume it. Bisphenol-A(BPA) a man-made chemical is high in plastic and has the ability to damage the functioning of the endocrine system.

The government has taken initiatives to keep public bins, but people still continue to litter.

I believe that people can only change the way they think if there is public awareness. I had taken a pledge at my school, to urge my peers, teachers and other school staff to reduce the use of single-use plastic. I also did a recycling campaign in my building where I went to door to door asking my neighbours to keep aside plastic bottles or any other recyclable material that I would collect and recycle.

People usually use plastic bags provided at stores and shops. We can only lead by being an example - I carry my own jute bags whenever I go shopping. As a community, we should have a good knowledge of the harmful effects of the plastic. Some fast food outlets already started using paper bags for parcels which are a good initiative. Let’s stop use of plastics.

- The reader is a student based in Dubai