The story about the river of plastic in Manila, Philippines must serve as an eye opener for the world (“Video: Manila’s river of plastic — Pasig River”, Gulf News, June 6). We thoughtlessly toss plastics and this can have far-reaching implications on the environment. The extreme damage plastic can cause to the environment may sound like a cliché, but it still remains a fact that cannot be ignored. Plastic waste is a growing problem that continues to occupy landfills. This leads to pollutants seeping into surrounding regions, but also takes centuries to decompose. In the modern world, a plethora of consumer items including electronic gadgetry, home appliances and furniture to name a few, are mostly made up of plastics. After they have served their time, they may be either discarded or sent for recycling. Even if 50 per cent of plastic is recycled, the remaining is a lot. These are in addition to the microscopic plastic particles that have become increasingly present in our terrestrial, aquatic and airborne environments, since the time of industrial revolution. Researchers have found that plastics used everyday are slowly leaching into human bodies and animals, which can lead to serious health related complications. Moreover, the destruction of plastic by means of incineration, is not helpful because of the harmful chemicals being released into the air, which is causing serious illnesses. Animal life is another casualty of the ubiquitous presence of plastics, where both terrestrial and aquatic creatures end up accidentally eating the plastic wastes after being carelessly thrown away into the surrounding wherein animals live. We could consider reducing the consumption of plastic including, recycling, storing food and water in non-plastic containers, refusing to pack grocery items in plastic bags, carrying jute or cloth bags while shopping, and looking for alternative ways to replace plastic items with metal or glass materials. An alternative environmentally friendly material to replace plastic is the need of the hour.

- The reader is a resident of Dubai