Plastic pollution is nothing new—nearly everyone has seen a plastic bag or bottle strewn somewhere it shouldn’t be. Likewise, the consequences that this kind of pollution can have are also fairly well documented, with images of creatures trapped in plastic packaging all too common.
In recent years, though, greater focus has been placed on “microplastics,” which are a category that includes tiny plastic pieces originating from a variety of sources. These include microbeads from cosmetics and soaps, tiny pieces broken off of larger plastic objects, and very small fibers washed off of synthetic fabrics like nylon, polyester, and others.
Combined, these microplastics have a number of damaging effects on the global environment and it is important that environmental experts search for solutions to try to remove them.
Here’s a look at how environmental professionals can help combat microplastics.
Graduates of Sustainability Studies Can Help Lead Society to Lower Plastic Consumption
Plastic is ubiquitous largely because it is inexpensive and relatively durable. Unfortunately, its durability means a huge proportion of the plastic that has been produced is still in existence somewhere on the planet—likely in a landfill or underwater. As more plastic is used and disposed of, much of it gets added to the existing pool of plastic that is breaking down into microplastic.
Shifting society away from its heavy reliance on plastic will be difficult, as non-plastic goods are often more expensive than their plastic counterparts. Other considerations—such as higher fuel consumption resulting from transporting a greater amount of heavy non-plastic goods—could mean switching away from plastic will come with adverse effects on the environment, too.
These problems aside, reducing worldwide plastic usage is a necessary step for combating the proliferation of microplastics. In the years ahead, environmental professionals will have a crucial role in alerting the public to the dangers of microplastics, leading communities to take action and performing other duties to encourage and monitor the transition. If you wish to contribute to this effort, obtaining your Master’s in Sustainable Development will help you to hone your skills under the guidance of world leading academics, and will also help you establish yourself as an expert. In the increasingly competitive professional landscape of environmental careers, this is an excellent way to ensure lasting success in your career.
Sustainability Studies Online Can Allow You to Determine Microplastics’ Full Negative Impact
There is still much to learn about the effects that microplastics have on organisms and the environment. Currently, research suggests that ocean creatures often consume the microplastics they encounter floating in the water, mistaking them for food. This can lead them to become malnourished and retain some of the toxic chemicals from within the plastic. As smaller creatures are consumed by larger creatures, and then by humans, there is potential for these toxins to move up the food chain and affect human health.
Additionally, a great many microplastics are caught up in waste water and go through sewage treatment plants where they become mixed in with semi-solid sludge that is often used for fertilizer. More research is required to determine what effect, if any, the accumulating microplastic in fields fertilized with sludge will have on soil, crop, and consumer health.
There is still much to discover, but with skills developed in a Sustainability Master’s online program, it’s possible to conduct useful, research-based inquiry that can help find answers to be used as a basis for sensible policymaking. If microplastics are a great, unknown danger, this could prove an essential step in saving the planet from great harm.
Do you want to complete sustainability studies online?
Contact Unity College to learn about our Master’s programs.