Plastic overflow-A A +A
Saturday, July 21, 2012
LAST week I went inside the grocery section in a mall and found out it was a “non-plastic bag” day in the week as the mall owners’ attempt to help save the environment. I felt good when told about it right there while I talked to the teller. I also felt good when I saw the stack of strong-looking paper bags in place of plastic bags.
I bought only Capri green pitted olives in a small glass container and three Sola Iced Tea drinks, also in glass containers—which means in total they’re heavier than olives and tea inside thick plastic containers.
As the teller handed me my change and pushed my way the paper bag with green olives and tea drinks in glasses inside, I automatically searched for the handle of the bag and found none. Thus, I hugged the inconsequential (but substantial in weight) grocery pieces, for it was the only way for me to carry the bag a bit comfortably.
Even if it had a handle, the paper bag wouldn’t be strong enough to hold the items, not the way a lightweight plastic bag would be very useful, via its handle.
Thus, I found myself buying garlic toast just outside the grocery section (which didn’t have a non-plastic day) where I asked to use a big plastic bag for my favorite garlic recipe and my grocery items. And so I reached out for the handle of the plastic shopping bag and walked into the heart of the mall comfortably.
I ought to be shot.
The world is trying its best first to stop producing, then to “destroy” (effectively, eventually) non-biodegradable plastics to save the world from choking. Think of what to do with something unwanted that’s stuck in a landfill for a thousand years before breaking down.
Simply put, as the World Wide Fund for Nature reports, plastics thrown into the water and land spaces could continue to kill 100,000 whales, seals, and turtles each year. This is not to talk of plastic items destroying man’s drainage systems, causing flood disasters, killing some animals caught in plastic bags in waterways or landfills.
The world wouldn’t want to wait for any country to undergo an experience like Bangladesh had in floods caused by littered plastic bags that put 2/3 of the country under water within more than a decade up to 1998. In its fight against the use of polythene shopping bags, the Bangladesh administration and the opposition agreed to impose “absolute ban” on the making, the import, sale, stock distribution, commercial use of polythene shopping bags. The country is the first in the world to ban it absolutely, beginning to clean up the streets and water system. It has also encouraged the production of the old jute bag as alternative.
National leaders and lawmakers should be open to ideas other than the political parties’ own on what to do with plastics. Talking of the alternatives, how about the old reusable shopping compra bags of plant fibers, such as cogon, lanot or hemp?
As for the paper bag, the process to produce it from trees needs a lot of water, which shoots down the world’s intent to save on it. And other alternatives to plastic shopping bags would need a process that would produce unwanted carbon and cause more environmental wear and tear.
In a world that’s facing the same environmental problems in whichever side of the globe, we should connect and share experiences. The matter of banning plastics isn’t a simple idea. But what is best is to begin banning—how often, what day, what to use in place of the plastic bags.
If not paper in place of plastics, how about the use of old reusable compra bag? We can still certainly use biodegradable coarse fabrics for bags and sacks. In place of the lightweight plastic bag, we could use other reusable bags, like what Grandma used in her time—woven bags made of cogon, cotton fabric, and jute bags which are soft vegetable fibers woven into strong threads. They are recyclable, durable, cheap to produce, biodegradable.
If we don’t use alternatives, we’ll be stuck with an environmental problem and nature’s enemy: non-biodegradable plastic bags.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 22, 2012.