We all know plastic pollutes the Earth, the evidence of which is found in images of bags piling up like mountains and oceans awash with discarded bottles. But that does not stop people from consuming products with plastic or excessive packaging. The damage to the environment is so worrying that no society can afford to sit back and do nothing. The severity of the problem has been reflected in a recent study by Hong Kong experts. It was found that the average concentration of microplastics, being 5mm or smaller, in local waters has seen an elevenfold increase in just three years . Around three-fifths of samples with such particles were white in colour, and a fifth transparent, suggesting the pollutants could come from food packaging, according to Greenpeace East Asia and researchers from Education University. While the quantities found may look minute, up from 0.256 pieces of microplastic per cubic metre of water in 2015 to 3.04 pieces in 2018, the surge within such a short time span is worrying. The danger goes beyond environmental pollution. Increasingly, plastic waste in the ocean has made its way into the human food chain and become a potential health hazard. Last year, local researchers put the spotlight on plastic contaminating a type of fish commonly consumed by Hongkongers. It was found that 60 per cent of the wild flathead grey mullet samples examined contained plastic particles. Overseas studies have also found that drinking water in some cities has been tainted, raising questions over the long-term impact on public health. We can continue to ignore such images and studies or try to make a difference. Even though the answer is clear, a plastic-free lifestyle does not come easy in a place with little regulation and support in this regard. The reluctance of the government to adopt stronger measures means consumers can only live with food and products that come with excessive packaging. This is not helped when recycling facilities are far from adequate. The study should prompt not just a change in our lifestyle, but also more resolute and effective government measures to reduce plastic consumption and to enhance recycling.