Japan is regarded as one of the cleanest countries, due in part through the use of single-use plastics. The excessive use of plastic has become part of the culture of Japan; however, single-use plastics are causing one of the most prominent problems today: ocean pollution.
Plastic is inexpensive and serves various purposes, which allows for mass production at a low cost. However, since it’s overused, plastic makes it easy for us to dispose of without thinking about the consequences. When plastic waste ends up in the ocean, it gets broken down into small particles known as microplastics.
Microplastics will remain in the ocean for hundreds of years, where they will be consumed by many organisms. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, we are consuming one credit card worth of plastic a week through drinking, eating and breathing microplastics. However, because they are invisible to the naked eye, it’s almost impossible for us to avoid consuming them.
Additionally, the WWF states that about half of the plastic waste is of the single-use variety. Fish are one of the most popular food types in Japanese culture, yet they are slowly suffocating, strangling, drowning and starving due to the plastic waste.
To avoid the ocean from getting filled by plastics, we will need to make better use of the three Rs — reuse, reduce and recycle. Plastic waste and microplastics are lethal chemicals for our bodies, and cannot be broken down easily in nature either. They are inescapable and will always be part of our bodies forever.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.