A micro problem with a macro effect

Wednesday, 4 November 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Natasha Fernando BUP_DFT_DFT-17-6 dh

It was finally time for our long-awaited vacation – a trip down south.  Sri Lanka, ‘the Pearl of the Indian Ocean,’ got its name rightfully from the lovely beaches surrounding the island. My friends and I had plans to take a swim in the sea. Deshan said, “I won’t rest till I go snorkelling!” So, snorkelling we went.

Very few will dispute that the ocean is beautiful, with its many fish in different, vibrant colours and the corals resting on the seabed. Aren’t they all fascinating creations of Mother Nature? The beauty of it all is astounding. However, not many people give much thought to the destruction that is brewing, invisible to the naked eye.

We are often unaware that everywhere around us, something destructive is happening. We don’t think about it or do anything about it, because we are all busy with our everyday lives. Did you know that the facial products we use and other items that we use daily, such as rope, paint and synthetic textiles, are all endangering the marine environment?  

This is because each item contains micro plastics – these take the form of micro-beads in the face washes and exfoliating scrubs we use. The sources of such micro plastics that somehow find their way into the marine environment are numerous and uncountable. Recreational and commercial fishing, shipping and even fibres from the clothes we wear are sources of micro plastics. 

The journey of micro plastics into aquatic ecosystems begins from our drainage systems and sewers, which then carry them into the rivers and other flowing water bodies and finally, into the sea. During natural calamities such as floods, storms and heavy rains, these micro plastics get embedded in riverbeds and are washed back into the land, endangering not only aquatic organisms, but humans and the environment on dry land as well. 



Although high profile research is underway, there is nothing anyone can do about it to protect the environment for future generations. The public is engaged in speaking and raising awareness about the need for sustainable development, but most don’t even know what this means. Our consumption of plastic has detrimental effects and the only way to prevent more harm is to reduce this consumption and direct it towards environment-friendly products.

As youth of this country, it is our duty to protect the environment and raise awareness of the detrimental effects of high levels of plastic consumption. Our active young minds should be able to think of ways to solve this issue. Think about it this way: “Our country, Sri Lanka, is blessed with flora and fauna and the most beautiful aquatic life; we even have species that are endemic to our country. These gifts from nature should add to our existing national pride, such that it is our duty, as Sri Lankans, to protect them.”

Knowing this would you still remain quiet about it? Or are you ready to take some action and do something to make a change?

(UNLOCKED is a space for Sri Lankan youth to express their views and opinions on development with the aim of creating positive change in the world. The views expressed in the blogs are solely those of the authors. UNDP Sri Lanka and Daily FT does not represent or endorse the views expressed in these blogs. Read more about the UNLOCKED initiative www.lk.undp.org)