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London Marathon 2019 makes refreshing move to offer water capsules in seaweed pouches to runners instead of plastic bottles

Go to the beach and walk towards the waves anywhere on any coast and you would see transparent jellyfish. Now, you see plastic bags, light blue post-shopping bags floating on the sea where they will float for 400 to 1000 years before they degrade.

 London Marathon 2019 makes refreshing move to offer water capsules in seaweed pouches to runners instead of plastic bottles

Competitors run along The Embankment with the London Eye seen in the background during the 2019 London Marathon. AFP

Never has a generation been so ignorant of the way in which it is choking the planet with this one factor…plastic. Experts have concluded that the biggest danger to the earth and to ourselves comes from single use plastic items. Your table sheet may stay for months but the stuff we fling away after one shot is now higher than Mount Everest. Just the US consumption of straws circles the earth 2.5 times per day and straws go straight into the ocean and pollute it, millions of them every day.

If we do finally wake up before death by plastic becomes a norm the London Marathon 2019 run on Sunday will go down as the first ever major international event that fought the blight by offering the 5,000 odd runners water capsules in an edible pouch made from a seaweed membrane that could be squeezed and drunk to hydrate and even if you did not eat the covering it would decompose into nothingness in four to six weeks and not several centuries as does the plastic bottle in your hand which will probably stay intact till the 25th century.

But old habits die hard and over 2,00,000 plastic bottles were still used on the 26 mile route but it was a sensible wake-up call as runners grabbed the soap sized pouches.

So few of us have woken up to this reality. A study that was published in Science Advances in July 2017 indicated that of all the nine billion tonnes of plastic produced since 1950 just nine percent has been recycled, 12 percent has been incinerated, and 79 percent clogs up landfills or simple lies around in the natural environment. The fact that 70 percent of plastic is used for packaging only makes things tragically worse.

And plastic bottles are a tragedy within a tragedy. Every second over 5,000 bottles are opened, 1,500 in the US alone and globally we purchase a million bottles every minute.  According to Our Green Planet, “Plastic bottles contain Bisphenol A (BPA), the chemical used to make the plastic hard and clear. BPA is an endocrine disruptor which has been proven to be hazardous to human health. It has been strongly linked to health problems including certain types of cancer, neurological difficulties, early puberty in girls, reduced fertility in women, premature labour and defects in newborn babies. BPA enters the human body through exposure to plastics such as bottled drinks and cleaning products.”

And if you are still not convinced bottled drinks also contain phthalates, which are commonly used in the U.S. to make plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible. “Phthalates are also endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to a wide range of developmental and reproductive effects, including reduced sperm count, testicular abnormality and tumours.”

And you cannot even incinerate these bottles because their fumes are toxic.

Well, thank you very much, let me have the seaweed pouch. Even if I do not eat the cover it will degrade by next month.

And we think nothing of how much we drink from and use this hazardous material.

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Updated Date: Apr 29, 2019 22:59:33 IST