Essay Title

Towards a Plastic-Free Future

“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away, it must go somewhere.” – Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. The United Nations (UN) reports that one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, and up to five trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. Our planet, especially our oceans, is suffocating under the weight of plastic. If this trend continues, it is projected that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight. This is a grave problem that demands urgent attention.


Goal number 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the ocean’s critical condition, with plastic pollution being a major factor. Seabirds are found with stomachs full of plastic, and coral reefs are impacted by plastic debris, affecting their health. Many beloved marine species are dying due to the suffocating presence of plastics. In early 2019, a comprehensive study conducted by a master’s student at the University of Saint Joseph shed light on the severity of plastic pollution in Macao’s coastal areas. Water samples collected from Cheoc Van and Hac Sa beaches revealed alarmingly high concentrations of approximately 800 microplastics per liter of sediment. Among the researched zones, Taipa’s coastal zone emerged as the most polluted, accounting for 41 percent of all the researched areas. Improper disposal and treatment of plastic packaging contribute to this problem.


As individuals, we can make a difference by adopting eco-friendly practices, such as recycling more and using reusable water bottles. While your personal contribution may seem small, collective action has a powerful impact. Countries around the world are also taking steps to reduce plastic pollution, and plastic manufacturers are increasingly focusing on recyclability. For instance, in 2017, China banned the import of 24 types of solid waste, including plastic, scrap paper, discarded textiles, and metals, from overseas. Other Asian countries followed suit. The UK has implemented a plastic packaging tax on packaging containing less than 30% recycled plastic. Macao has also enacted laws restricting the provision of plastic bags in retail stores. These examples demonstrate efforts to minimize the environmental impact of plastic bags.


As our plastic consumption continues to rise, it is imperative to develop a comprehensive plan to ban unnecessary single-use plastics. We must reduce our dependence on plastics, and the responsibility falls upon us to restore the health of our planet and preserve its wonders for future generations. Act now, as there’s no time to waste. By working together to cut down on plastic usage, we can achieve a world that is free of plastic, making the Earth a better place for all to live in.


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Photo by Polina Tankilevitch:

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