Q-tips are a household item that most people use every day, but Q-tips have much more harmful environmental impacts than you might think. Q-tips are a cosmetic device that is a stick made from plastic or paper that have small spindles of cotton on one or both ends. You would think that since they are small in size that they wouldn’t be hard to produce with any environmental deterioration, but it is quite the opposite. The main focal point of this essay is the cotton part, not the spindle.
Cotton is a material that can cause major atmosphere, soil, and environmental pollution.
Q-tips are used in households, businesses, and even scientists and law enforcement. The first Q-tip was made by Leo Gerstenzang in the 1920s when he got the idea when watching his wife use a toothpick with a bit of cotton on the end of it to clean their newborn’s ears(Cotton Swab, 2018). The first wave of Q-tips was called ‘Q-tips Baby Gays’ because it made children, especially babies, happy because their ears were getting clean without any pain(Cotton Swab, 2018) The baby gays name was eventually dropped in 1926 and it became just Q-tips( the ‘Q’ stands for Quality)(Cotton Swab, 2018).
There is a lot of point source pollution associated with Q-tip making but there could be even more nonpoint source pollution. It takes a lot of stuff to get the materials you need for Q-tip making, you need gas for the trucks, materials to make the machines to process the cotton, and power for all of the factories, cars, trucks, ships, farms, and a whole lot more.
Pollution, point or nonpoint source, can come in numerous ways. With all these ‘things’ we have we don’t need to worry about a natural doomsday, we are basically bringing it upon ourselves if we don’t cut down on environmental pollution.
Cotton affects the environment in many ways and in many forms, it can be solid, a liquid, or a gas depending on where it is in the process of manufacturing. The things that are needed to produce cotton also can damage and harm the environment like fumes and waste dumping(Cotton, 2018). When the cotton is picked it takes soil with it if you take the whole plant out of the ground, this can cause erosion and can pollute water sources. After it is picked it must go through processing at a factory which means that you have to have trucks which can deposit oil into the ground if they leak, they also need gas to run and that comes from the earth.
Even though it is very damaging to the environment if has benefits like it is natural so it is produced by the earth and doesn’t have to be mined or anything. That also decreases the pollution you would put out if you would mine or use fracking to get it. But you still have to factor in the pollution that comes from the production and acquirement of cotton. On the website ecowatch it says that fashion is the second biggest industry in the world and that involves a lot of cotton production and that means a lot of pollution processing that cotton(Ecowatch, 2018).
The lithosphere is the solid, outer part of the Earth. The lithosphere includes the brittle upper portion of the mantle and the crust, the outermost layers of Earth’s structure. It is bounded by the atmosphere above and the asthenosphere (another part of the upper mantle)(national Geographic, 2018). Cotton as a plant lives in the lithosphere otherwise it wouldn’t be able to survive. But even though it comes from the earth it can still cause pollution to the earth it came out of. Crazy right? Effects on the lithosphere can be from almost anything under the sun, literally most things that come from the lithosphere affect the planet negatively.
Things like gas, oil, electricity, and many other things. It takes all if not more of these things to make and produce cotton gas comes in when you use cars, ships, trains, trucks, and machines to transport the product. You need oil in modes of transportation as well but it is also used as a lubricant for machines in Textile and processing factories(cotton, 2018). You need electricity in factories, homes where the workers live, farms where the cotton is grown and its how the machines are powered that processes the cotton.
The Industrial revolution had a huge impact on the lithosphere, some negative and some positive. A positive example would be that it bought new technology to people who didn’t have it before. But the negative outweigh the positives by a lot, one example would be that with all these new factories didn’t know what to do with their artificial waste so they just built a pipe into a stream and pumped oil and harmful chemicals into the bodies of water. We still haven’t cleaned all that up yet and it is still continuing to harm our environment.
Cotton hurts the lithosphere through things like pesticides and things that keep bugs and animals off of it. Pesticides can make fields not livable to animals who previously had their habitat there. And if the soil is moved during rainfall it can get into streams and hurt animals. If we want to keep our lithosphere healthy than we all have to stop polluting the environment and help clean it up. If you don’t need new clothes just don’t get them, think about all of the pollution that was produced to make that jacket or shirt that you want to buy.
The hydrosphere is the total amount of water on a planet. The hydrosphere includes water that is on the surface of the planet, underground, and in the air. A planet’s hydrosphere can be liquid, vapor, or ice(National Geographic, 2018). We can pollute the hydrosphere through multiple ways like sewage, waste dumping, acid rain, other things like that. If we want to keep our race alive we have to be extra careful when it comes to the hydrosphere.
Only about 0.3% of our freshwater is the easiest accessible to us and if we pollute that than we either have to get it from under the earth or from the ice caps. Sewage is generally a point-source pollutant. Sewage is the wastewater from residential and commercial buildings. Degradation of stream water quality by untreated or insufficiently treated sewage is a widespread problem in many rural areas. Waste dumping is when people dump waste and trash into a area of land or water. If you do it in the ocean it can have a very bad effect. Animals could eat it and die and that isn’t good for anybody.
Cotton can pollute the hydrosphere by the ways it is acquired, the ways it is processed, and the ways it is treated and grown. Cotton is acquired by using big machines that are gas powered and that releases harmful chemicals that can cause acid rain. It is processed in factories that also use big machines and can dump their waste into local bodies of water which can be devastating to the animal life there. The processed cotton is shipped by trucks, ships, and planes that all produce their own different types of pollution. The worst of all of these is probably the ships, if they have an oil spill than they can cause years of natural pollution in seconds.
The biosphere is made up of the parts of Earth where life exists. The biosphere extends from the deepest root systems of trees, to the dark environment of ocean trenches, to lush rainforests and high mountaintops(National Geographic, 2018). Biosphere pollution are mostly from human practices like waste dumping, fouling of air, and releasing harmful chemicals into all the spheres. All of these things can add up to make the Earth not able to support life anymore.
Cotton can contribute to the depletion and damage the biosphere through many different ways. It can be through air, water, and land. Harmful gas releases, emissions from cars, trucks, and ships, and the burning of fossil fuels are all examples of air pollution. Chemical spills/dumping, littering, waste dumping, and erosion of soil are all ways of water pollution. Harmful pesticides, toxic waste dumping, and uncontrolled trash placement(like a landfill) are all ways of land pollution.