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All about the most selfish animal on the planet

We, humans, continue to choke our oceans with harmful waste. So, have we really changed?

 
By Pallavi Ghosh
Published: Tuesday 21 April 2020
All about the most selfish animal on the planet
When these discarded masks are introduced in the local environment by humans, animals are its victims. (Image credit: iStock) When these discarded masks are introduced in the local environment by humans, animals are its victims. (Image credit: iStock)

For a change, humans have decided to be responsible. Like good law-abiding citizens, we are wearing masks and gloves when we step out and maintaining social distancing norms. Don’t we deserve a pat on the back?

It’s not all that bad. The once invisible mountains have re-appeared, almost like magic, from the erstwhile cloud of polluted skies. We are experiencing life like never before. Things that we have only heard in stories like full rainbows, the birds and their daily orchestra and crystal clear river water have suddenly become realities and we are in awe of these marvels of nature.

So why not toss all our worries and focus on the good things in life. Only that is not the only thing we are tossing away, it seems. Our roads, trees, beach sides and rivers have received a gift from us. These are the masks we tossed away while stepping out of the house. It is almost like we have left behind a note saying humans were here. And as usual, it’s the animal world that is paying the cost for it.

Birds, not used to finding masks hanging from the trees, are getting strangled. The bright colours of latex gloves can be mistaken as food by seabirds, turtles and other marine mammals putting them at risk of severe injuries and death. Not only this surgical masks are made using non-woven fabrics including plastics like polypropylene. Therefore, many of these discarded masks contain materials that do not recycle and are not biodegradable. When these end up in the oceans, sea animals as mighty as the whale or as tiny as the seahorse become victims of it.

But who cares? As long as humans are okay, everything is fine. Well, here’s a reality check. These discarded masks floating in our rivers and oceans pose a huge health risk, especially during a pandemic. Secondly, plastic entering the food chain would mean every time we consume seafood, we would be ingesting micro-plastics or tiny pieces of plastic coming from the polluted oceans of the world.

Even before the lockdown, humans were responsible for almost 80 per cent of marine debris. And till date, we continue to choke our oceans with harmful waste. So have we changed, really?

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