Human beings, over time, have made thousands of discoveries to make life easier: they have created products made from organic materials and Nature has known how to process them. The biodegradation process decomposes the products into their forming chemical elements, thanks to the action of biological agents such as animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms.
But with those materials that are “man-made” or synthetic, Mother Nature does not know what to do when they become useless or unnecessary.
Since the invention of materials such as plastic or metal, we, humans, have had to deal with the waste. It is at this point where the word recycling takes hold.
Each material, organic or not, has its degradation time. Here are some examples of the time it takes to degrade a man-made material:
Aluminum can: 10 years.
It can be reused as many times as you want without affecting its characteristics. Inside, cans have a small layer of plastic so that the taste or smell of the product inside does not change. Although its invention dates back several centuries, it is one of the greatest technological advances of the twentieth century, as it became one of the first containers with the capacity to be recycled and reused.
Tetra-brick container: 30 years.
These are 5-layer containers made of cardboard, plastic and aluminum. Although it takes so many years to degrade, its recycling process lasts only a few minutes, due to the fact that it is made a 70% out of cardboard.
Plastic bag: 100 to 600 years.
The vast majority of its raw materials are obtained from oil. This material has a huge amount of uses. There are 2 types of plastic:
Plastic used in packaging for human consumption can only be recycled once. The recycling process is often costly.
Disposable diapers: 500 years.
Before the 1970s only cotton diapers were used. These are washable, reusable and did not cause environmental damage. Disposable diapers were invented in the United States. They are intended for a single use only. A child under one year of age can use up to 10 diapers daily. It is highly polluting as its processing basis is oil.
Glass bottle: 4,000 years.
This material is very noble when recycling, as it requires fewer resources and raw materials than those needed in its initial manufacture. It can be recycled many times without losing its properties. Glass is reused in the manufacture of bricks, artificial turf, water filtration systems, among others.
As we can see, it takes too long for man-made material to be degraded, but with the will of men these materials can be reused.
We hope that these examples will help us become aware of the importance of not throwing away non-organic garbage and motivate us to look for ways to make a recycler, their final destiny.
Much is being done globally to give a better end to so many tons of garbage. International organizations and NGOs, among others, have organized themselves to help the planet get rid of so much garbage.
Although it sounds very cliché, the effort must begin at home and on a personal level. Unfortunately, much of this rubbish comes from urban areas and they reach the sea directly through the riverbed.
Recently a large group of Costa Rican divers got together to give the planet a little help. On several beaches at the Pacific coast many divers devoted themselves to take out as much garbage as possible.
Mundo Acuático collaborated in this cause with a group of 24 divers, cleaning beaches at the area of Papagayo and Playas del Coco. It should be noted that also the people accompanying the divers helped with the collection of garbage along the beach. It was unbelievable everything we found in the bottom of the sea. For example: disposable diapers, plastic plates and cups, fishing ropes, bottles, clothing, metals, etc.
All our diver friends were happy and proud of themselves for the work done. They realized that it is not so difficult to get hands-on and help the Planet, which unfortunately, is drowning among so many synthetic residues.
It is important to emphasize that one of the tasks done in our Open Water Scuba Diver course is that students, with their diving suit up to their waist, must collect the garbage they find on the tour at Playa Ocotal. Previously, they receive a talk on ecology, responsible fishing and the final destination of the collected waste. This way, we intend to can create an environmentalist culture.
Finally, we give immense thanks to all the participants of this First Underwater Cleaning in Costa Rica!