Most flip flops contain a substance known as DEHP, which has been listed by the European Union as a substance of a very high concern. Even though it has been categorized as a toxicant to the fertility of both, men and women, the FDA hasn’t yet made recommendations about DHEP’s health risks. What they seem to be more concerned about, are the effects of the substance in medical devices.
A study on animals reveals that DHEP has adverse effects on young animals, affecting the development of testicles and normal sperm production.
Other chemicals found in most flip flops include polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), heavy metals, cadmium, tin organic compounds, mercury, and lead.
About 100,000 flip flops are produced by manufacturing companies every single day. And inevitably, most of them end up discarded in the environment after use. Consequently, the garbage ends up in our oceans, causing severe damage to the marine life.
Reports indicate that about 8 million tons of plastic, including flip flops, find their way into our oceans each year. This means that by the year 2050, the weight of plastic waste could be greater than that of the fish in the sea. This flip flop waste is not only sore to the eye, but also acts as a significant health hazard, as it is not biodegradable.
Why Are Flip Flops Dangerous?
Flip flops are dangerous to the marine life and environment because:
1. When fish eat the pieces of plastic, they often end up dead, as they cannot digest this material. Plus, it contains harmful substances that pose a risk to ocean life.
2. When we have flip flop waste all over the beaches, it makes it impossible for the turtles to hatch on the land. If the situation doesn’t change, turtles may become an endangered species.
3. Pollution kills plant life, which is key for the ocean’s ecosystem.
4. Crabs are caught in the waste, and die from ingesting the plastic found in the sand.
5. Pollution has affected the economy in many places, such as Kenya. Entire communities have been forced to desert the beaches, because they weren’t able to rely on fishing for their livelihood. Simply, the population of fish has dropped in these areas, as a result of pollution.
6. Because pollution rises, predominantly from plastic waster, entire ecosystems are collapsing. Species of fish and other organisms, key to the ecosystem, are dying. And, if we don’t put the situation under control, we will have serious problems in future.
A marine conservationist from Kenya, Julie Church, is taking proactive action towards changing the situation. She is the founder of the organization Ocean Sole. After getting inspiration from the local kids who used flip flops to make toys, Church managed to mobilize the locals in Kiunga, Kenya to collect the discarded flip flops from the beaches, and use them to create artistic pieces and products. The main goal of this action is to keep the beaches clean, while growing the economy at the same time. The organization also plays a key role in creating awareness about the pollution problem.
If we all play a role in recycling the plastic waste found on our beaches, we will be saving the future of our marine life and environment.
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