They are bad, destructive, non-biodegradable and well, just not cool! Plastic bags are to the environment what a frenemy is to you. It may look quite useful, but with time it will only harm you and make bad things happen to you, they are vindictive. Plastic bags, because of their non-biodegradable nature, have already cost us a lot – water logging during the rains, bad crops because of plastic in the soil, harms aquatic life if thrown in water and also reduces the production of coal and petroleum because it doesn’t break down.
The environment needs natural space just like us to work properly, because of the so called development and modernization, it is already on the verge of losing its balance. There are not enough trees, villages are being transformed into cities, the population has increased, pollution knows no bounds and because of this sooner or later we will have to change our ways of living. The sooner we do it, the better it will be for us. For the environment to work properly and stay in balance, one thing that could help us is to not pollute it and today, the number one pollutant is plastic. Plastic from bottles, shopping bags, wrappers and in lots of other forms.
Why is it bad and what do we want
It is bad because it is not a natural product, it is bad because it is non-biodegradable, it is bad because even when it becomes waste, it does not break down under high pressure and heat unlike the other waste materials. It cannot be destroyed, it can only be recycled and used for longer. And using plastic for a really long time is unhealthy as it attracts bacteria and can make people sick.
We want to tell the world that banning plastic is not a big deal, that life is not dependent on such a small thing. We want to make the rest of the country like Himachal Pradesh which is probably the only state which has successfully discontinued using plastic bags. And with so many substitutes already present in the market, why go behind a stupid thing like plastic anyway? Also, not using plastic bags will go well for your pocket also. Many shopping outlets have started charging you for that extra poly bag, why waste even a buck on something that is not good?
How can it be done?
The problem here is that the government has already tried telling people that the use of plastic should be discontinued, which is why you have to pay to get a plastic bag. The work here needs to be done by the people of the country. Start carrying your own bag. How difficult can it be to just carry your own jute bag when you go out shopping? Why can’t you be a little more careful?
We are not asking for protests and rallies, we are just asking you to be a little more conscious about your actions. Shopkeepers could also keep jute bags instead of plastic bags. A collective action of the sellers and the buyers can help the environment in sustaining its balance. For this little deed of help you do today, you will be able to breathe and live in a healthy environment for almost a decade longer.
We need support
People who go to work, people who do not go to work, people who are literate, people who are illiterate, all can come together and do this. The person who sells vegetable, the person who sells branded clothes, everyone can contribute and become a bigger person. We all – the rich, the poor, the careful and the not so careful, we all live in the same environment and we all will have to come together to save it from going to the dogs.
And for once, I am not talking only about our country, I am talking about the world. If you are someone who gets fascinated by the bigger picture, here it is – you need to stop using plastic because if you don’t, 10-100 years down the lane, the planet will not have any natural resources, the roads will be clogged with shit and the plants will be struggling with plastic to find a way into the soil. And if you stop using plastic, eventually a day will come when 100 percent of people will be using a substitute for plastic and the world will still have some hope to cling on to. I am not saying the problem will end, but the end of the problem will begin!
Reader, writer, social worker, journalist, closet poet. Loves books, dogs and people . Travel and tattoo enthusiast. Writing came as an epiphany while doing Journalism and Mass Communication from Xavier Institute of Communications. Currently, turning her passion into her profession.
Why are Plastic Bags a Problem?
They are harmful to the environment.
• Takes 1000 years to decompose into smaller pieces, which seep down into the soil and release chemicals, which eventually reach the water supply.
• Kills animals in the water when they eat plastic bags thinking they are jellyfish
• Builds up in landfills
• Manufacturing of plastic bags is harmful to the environment because nonrenewable resources are used (petroleum and natural gas). The manufacturing process itself uses toxic chemicals, pollutes the atmosphere and consumes energy.
• The transportation of the billions of plastic bags produced annually means further energy consumption, largely in the form of more petroleum.
• Stores give out unlimited amounts of plastic bags for FREE even when the costumer doesn’t really need one
• Cost in terms of energy and manpower is greater than the value of the material produced
SHOPPING CULTURE IN EARLIER DAYS
Before the advent of poly-bags, people did shop, buy things, bring eatables from the market, and did the same marketingas is done now. How did they did it? The raw material for the bag was decided by its usage. Cloth bags for lighter items, Gunny bags/Jute bags forvoluminousand heavier goods. The cost did not justify use and discard attitude. These bags were washable and reusable lasting for six months to a year.
PLASTIC HAZARDSThe hazards plastics pose are numerous. The land gets littered by plastic bag garbage presenting an ugly and unhygienic seen. The "Throw away culture" results in these bags finding their way in to the city drainage system, the resulting blockage cases inconvenience, difficult in maintaining the drainage with increased cost, creates unhygienic environment resulting in health hazard and spreading of water borne diseases. This littering also reduces rate of rain water percolating, resulting in lowering of already low water levels in our cities. The soil fertility deteriorates as the plastic bags form part of manure remains in the soil for years.
Apart from causing soil pollution, sewage blockages, cattle and mainly marine creature’s mistake plastic for food directly or indirectly, blocking digestion and possibly causing starvation. About 44 percent of all seabirds eat plastic, apparently by mistake, sometimes with fatal effects. And 267 marine species are affected by plastic garbage—animals are known to swallow plastic bags, which resemble jellyfish in mid-ocean. Apparently according to one research plastics at oceans are actually degrading and releasing toxic chemicals and causing water pollution.
Is it not enough that we already burn tonnes of oil and destroy the delicate balance of nature; Is it not enough that our power hungry nature has pushed many a species to extinction? The excuse that the common man really don't realize what he is doing to the Eco system is no longer acceptable. While a few of us burn ourselves day in and day out working to protect our fragile planet, the rest of us are happily dumping her with tonnes of garbage, and not just any garbage , the most toxic non-biodegradable, plastics. Let us be very clear here, we have only one earth and only one chance. The Earth will not take this hands down. She is raging, and when her rage will hit us with full force, there will be no light of the day for the human race anymore. Already the production of plastics uses up a lot of fossil fuels and is endangering marine life. And if the lay man does not wake from his long slumber of sweet dream and face the reality, I am afraid there is no help for the turtles and other marine birds that have been affected directly by plastic pollution.
It has been observed that the animals eating the bags sometimes die. Plastic goes into the ocean which is already a plastic infested body of water. Fish and other marine species in the water ways, misunderstanding plastic garbage as food items swallow them and die.
The various other alternatives:
- Use biodegradable bags made from fabrics.
- Ladies can fold a cotton bag or two in to their purses which can be used to quench their sudden urge for shopping.
- Nylon bags can be used and reused several times.
- Donate old news papers and magazines to small scale institutes that cut these old papers in to paper bags and packets.
- Use a wicker basket. (They can make a fashion statement today.)
- Educate the local retailers on the ill effects of use of plastics.
- Insist your local retailers to use plastic bags of thicker variety if at all he has to use.
- Offices can distribute canvas bags as New Year gifts instead of diaries and other sweet nothings.
- Better still buy a foldable shopping trolley. When you can buy a stroller for your new born this is not impossible you see.
- The common man is already burdened with spiraling prices, so I don’t wish to suggest to the government to impose a plast-tax. Mere ban will fail, as it has in the previous.
All we need to do is come back to the simpler lives we once lived. Break away from the habit of buying avoidable plastic bags. Carry a cloth/jute bag always. Bring awareness about the harmful effects of plastic to the people around you.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
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