P. 1
Plastic Monster

Plastic Monster

|Views: 5,922|Likes:
Published by Pratik Shah

More info:

Published by: Pratik Shah on Jul 19, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOC, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





What is plastic

A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs. Monomers of plastic are either natural or synthetic organic compounds. The word plastic is derived from the Greek πλαστικός (plastikos) meaning capable of being shaped or molded, from πλαστός (plastos) meaning molded. It refers to their malleability, or plasticity during manufacture, that allows them to be cast, pressed, or extruded into a variety of shapes—such as films, fibers, plates, tubes, bottles, boxes, and much more. The common word plastic should not be confused with the technical adjective plastic, which is applied to any material which undergoes a permanent change of shape (plastic deformation) when strained beyond a certain point. Aluminum which is stamped or forged, for instance, exhibits plasticity in this sense, but is not plastic in the common sense; in contrast, in their finished forms, some plastics will break before deforming and therefore are not plastic in the technical sense. There are two types of plastics: thermoplastics and thermosetting polymers. Thermoplastics are the plastics that do not undergo chemical change in their composition when heated and can be moulded again and again; examples are polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Thermosets can melt and take shape once; after they have solidified, they

stay solid.The raw materials needed to make most plastics come from petroleum and natural gas. Plastic is polluting the oceans. There are an estimated 46,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre of the world's oceans. Much of it is concentrated in a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, killing a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals yearly.

Plastic pollution
Plastic bags are difficult and costly to recycle and most end up on landfill sites where they take around 300 years to photodegrade. They break down into tiny toxic particles that contaminate the soil and waterways and enter the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them. But the problems surrounding waste plastic bags starts long before they photodegrade. Our planet is becoming increasingly contaminated by our unnecessary use of plastic bags. Big black bin liners, plastic carrier bags carrying advertising logos, clear sandwich bags and a variety of other forms are all polluting our environment. They're lightweight, handy and easily discarded. Too easily discarded. While they were rarely found during the 60s and 70s, their usage has increased at an alarming rate since they became popular during the 80s. Just take a look around you. Plastic bags can be seen hanging from the branches of trees, flying in the air on windy days, settled amongst bushes and floating on rivers. They clog up gutters and drains causing water and sewage to overflow and become the breeding grounds of germs and bacteria that cause diseases.

Plastic defies any kind of attempt at disposal. There is no safe way to dispose plastic waste. Like in the case of all other chemical substances. damage the nervous system and the immune system and also adversely affect the blood and the kidneys. So the only way to reduce the hazards of plastic pollution is to reduce the use of plastic and thereby force a reduction in its production. Besides hitting hard the ecosystem which is already fragile. be it through recycling. many of these toxic substance are emitted during recycling of plastic too. When you recycle a hazard. Recycling of a plastic merely puts it back into the market place and . ‘disposal’ of plastic is a myth. The major chemicals that go into the making of plastic are highly toxic and pose serious threat to living beings of all species on earth. these chemicals can cause an array of maladies ranging from birth defects to cancer. think and realise that you are contributing your share to a deadly plastic pollution whose ill effects are irreversible and capable of reaching out to many generations to come. Being composed of toxic chemicals and most importantly a non biodegradable substance. benzene and xylenes. burning or landfilling. Plastic is one of the major toxic pollutants of our time. Plastic causes serious damage to environment during its production process and during its disposal process. and other gases and liquid hydrocarbons spoil earth and air. you pave way for another hazard. The noxious substances emitted during the production of plastic are synthetic chemicals like ethylene oxide. plastic pollutes earth and leads to air pollution and water pollution. the harm introduced is almost permanent.Next time you do the shopping and carry home the things in a plastic carry bag. Some of the constituents of plastic such as benzene and vinyl chloride are proved to cause cancer. Once plastic is produced. And.

The only way to overcome the deadly and lasting . landfilling using plastic would mean preserving the poison forever. When plastic is burned. it has its own disadvantages. plastic releases a host of poisonous chemicals including dioxin into the air. Choked drains provide excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes besides causing flooding during the monsoon. Since plastic does not undergo bacterial decomposition. then seep through the ground and drain into nearby streams and lakes and other water bodies. Thus the water we use gets poisoned. the waste mass impedes the flow of ground water. Plastic wastes clog the drains and thus hit especially urban sewage systems.eventually into the environment. marine life and also the air we breathe. recycling of plastic is very uneconomical. Apart from these dangers. The wastes. Apart form toxic seepage from the landfill resulting in the contamination of precious water sources. Recycling of plastic is associated with skin and respiratory problems resulting from exposure to and inhalation of toxic fumes. Landfills are also prone to leaks. streams and sea contaminate the water. The recycled plastic degrades in quality and necessitates the production of more new plastic to make the original product. invariably mix with rain water. When burned. soil. The plastic wastes being dumped into rivers. especially cadmium and lead in the wastes. especially hydrocarbons and residues released during the process. Any attempt to get rid of plastic through landfills is also dangerous. thereby making no reduction in its use. dirty and labour intensive as has been revealed by studies conducted by many 'Public Interest Research Groups'.

many stray animals end up consuming plastic which eventually leads to their death. The people from rural areas often use plastic bags and bottles on a large scale. Effects of plastic pollution The rural areas are more prone to any kind of pollution due to poor disposable systems. a jute or cloth bag. Say NO to plastic whenever and wherever you can. Prefer to carry your own bags for grocery shopping.danger of plastic pollution is to cut down the use of plastic. if possible avoid it altogether. Due to improper disposal systems. Plastic flowing in . the plastic fallen on the road gets washed away into the nearby water reservoirs and even flow into drains. All attempts made to put an end to plastic pollution will be a REAL BENEFIT for your grand children. rural people are a contributing factor to plastic pollution. save our environment from plastic pollution and make it a better environment for future. Unaware of the harm caused due to plastic. Also during the rains. Let us contribute our part.

might even get tangled and suffocate to death. Certain plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Among the 47 chemical plants ranked highest in carcinogenic emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). formed out of dumping plastic wastes in the water. Plastic takes many years to decompose and during the process of decomposition. are potential sources of . tricking the animals for small water species. plastic releases harmful chemicals and also breaks down into small pieces. The animal’s body might decompose. they deliberately ignore the highly toxic nature of plastic production. Bisphenol A is a harmful chemical that damages the reproductive system of animals. it is soon getting contaminated due to dumping of plastic wastes. it releases some toxic chemicals such as Styrene Trimer. electrical cables and countless other products. but the plastic consumed by it will remain to pose threat to other marine animals. littering the land. trees and water bodies. Also wind carry and deposit the plastic from one place to other. whether the product is called "degradable. It also gets stuck on fences. As we all know that only 1% of water on earth is drinking water." "recyclable" or any other "green marketing" catchword.the drainage blocks the water providing a shelter for mosquitoes to breed. Marine species can also at times get tangled in the plastic layer. As the years pass. While the plastic industry promotes its new "environmentally friendly" products. used for indoor and outdoor plumbing. Any animal that comes in the vicinity of plastic. Bisphenol A and a by product of Polystyrene. 35 are involved in plastic production. Disposal of plastic in oceans affects both marine animals and also the seabirds.

It makes them feel good. enough steel to literally rebuild Manhattan and enough wood and paper to heat 5 million homes for 200 years. . Degradability is just a marketing tool. followed by efficient recycling. Educated choices by both producers and consumers. although some communities do far better than that. In sum. Right now we are recycling only one percent nationwide. office paper. cardboard. Customers don't care if it even solves the solidwaste problem. can drastically reduce worldwide pollution.Mobil Chemical Company spokesperson.highly toxic dioxins when burned in municipal incinerators or in accidental fires. glass bottles. "[Degradable bags] are not the answer to landfill crowding or littering . With current technology we can recycle newspaper. automobile tires and motor oil. But there is good evidence that the real purpose of marketing these products is not so much environmental improvement as it is to cash in on the American public's desire for environmental improvement. aluminum cans. . . there is no good evidence that "degradable" plastics actually eliminate the environmental hazards associated with ordinary plastics. Polystyrene foam products are often made with chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). both of which are ozone-destroying chemicals. I don't think the average consumer even knows what degradability means. We're talking out of both sides of our mouths because we want to sell bags. large appliances. we throw out enough aluminum to quadruple the size of our air fleet. Every year. scrap metals." -. recycling 50 percent or more of their solid waste.

Causes of plastic pollution Plastics are used because they are easy and cheap to make and they can last a long time. Because the plastic is cheap it gets discarded easily and its persistence in the environment . Unfortunately these same useful qualities can make plastic a huge pollution problem.

Turtles are particularly badly affected by plastic pollution.P. This includes 36 species found off South Africa. 75 marine bird species are known to eat plastic articles. Turtles mistake floating transparent plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them. This plastic can affect marine wildlife in two important ways: by entangling creatures. and all seven of the world's turtle species are already either endangered or threatened for a number of reasons. in India. In one dead turtle found off Hawaii in the Pacific more than 1000 pieces of plastic were found in the stomach. India in 1998. The plastic rubbish found on beaches near urban areas tends to originate from use on land. the amount of plastic waste in our oceans is steadily increasing. In stomach of one dead cow. Turtles get entangled in fishing nets. Urbanization has added to the plastic pollution in concentrated form in cities. and by being eaten. On remote rural beaches the rubbish tends to have come from ships. and many sea turtles have been found dead with plastic bags in their stomachs. It was claimed in one of the programmes on TV Channel that eating plastic bags results in death of 100 cattle per day in U. Plastic thrown on land can enter into drainage lines and chokes them resulting into floods in local areas in cities as experienced in Mumbai. Because plastic does not decompose. such as fishing equipment used in the fishing industry. More than 90% of the articles found on the sea beaches contained plastic. such as packaging material used to wrap around other goods. and the position is worsening Worldwide. A recent study of blue petrel chicks at South Africa's . A recent US report concluded that more than 100000 marine mammals die each year in the world's oceans by eating or becoming entangled in plastic rubbish.can do great harm. and requires high energy ultraviolet light to break down. as much as 35 kg of plastic was found.

SHOULD PLASTIC BE TOTALLY BANNED? .remote Marion Island showed that 90% of chicks examined had plastic in their stomachs apparently fed to them accidentally by their parents. blocking digestion and possibly causing starvation. Plastics may remain in the stomachs. South African seabirds are among the worst affected in the world.

"Should plastic carry bags and bottles be banned in totality?" . It is not that poly-bags are responsible for the ills. scissors. It is ignorance ( or who cares attitude). But because of throw away culture and no objection from passer by. it is the humans. The country yet to take a serious view of the issue and have a uniform nationwide law for indiscreet disposals of plastic bags. But too many do it as our cities have huge population. The teaching should start right from the primary schools. "Plastic is an eco-friendly material. The real problem is littering". the whole idea of educating people about plastic bags. These utility items are not banned. And all the hype that poly-bags pollute is not totally false. blades can heart if not handled properly. the world annual average is a alarming 18 kg. of course not. Thinking rationally. But there is hardly anybody who agrees with such viewpoint. People should be educated on the proper ways of plastic bag usage and the disposal. the government official or the hard-hit plastic bag manufacturer. Whether it is the common citizen. Average Indian uses one kilogram (kg) of plastics per year. if not fully equitable and practical solution. We have not banned sewing needles they pierce through the skin. although very ambitious. all of them agree on . It's a stupid idea.Many household utility items like needle. the advise on sensible disposal of plastic bags are not heeded by general public forcing the government to consider banning of plastic bags all together. Children need to be trained in their proper handling.is a heated issue today. and it is as difficult as banning smoking The conventional older and tested alternatives offers an easy. some claim.

biodegradable plastics are generally made. FUTURE ALTERNATIVE . They last for about 1 to 3 years before rotting into the soil.one point . This entails the use of DEGRADABLE PLASTICS. In France.firm steps are required to be taken against littering of plastic bags and bottles all around. Photo-degradable plastics contain chemicals that slowly disintegrate when exposed to light. The principal is to incorporate into the plastic some chemical that is photodegradable/biodegradable or chemically treatable. On burial such plastics are attacked by bacteria feeding on starch. But they have to be used in places with consistent . Chemically degradable plastics can be broken up by spraying them with a solution that causes them to dissolve.ECOFRIENDLY PLASTICS However newer technology is also being developed in this regard. For example such material can be used as a protective wax covering for new cars. Some common examples of biodegradable plastics are the use of "non-removable" suture materials in surgery or capsules for drugs. This spray reacts with one of the components of the plastic and causes it to dissolve into harmless materials which can be flushed down the drain. that washes off at the dealer's garage by a specially formulated spray. which dissolve slowly in body fluids. which breaks these down into tiny particles that disappear harmlessly into the soil. strips of photo-degradable plastic about 3 ft (1mtr) wide are used to retain heat in the soil and produce early crops. By adding starch.

hotels. they must be stored away from direct sunlight. which is photo-degradable. However degradable plastic can have a few other problems. The biggest drawback is the cost of it's production. A ban on plastic bags (below 20 microns) has already been imposed by various states and also in a few towns and districts in India. medical shops. Japanese scientists however claim that they will soon be able to produce much cheaper multipurpose biodegradable plastic. it cannot be recycled because there is no easy way to measure it's remaining life span. for the present. cheap and is used in all types of shops in our daily life. In the USA. People are so accustomed to it. For example. But to stop them decaying too early. that they find it very difficult to part with it. For example: bakeries. about one quarter of the plastic yokes that link beer cans in a six pack are made of plastic called Ecolyte. grocery stores. Plastic bags are so light and strong that they can carry normal weight. it would be prudent . In order to obviate the disposal problems and to prevent Environmental pollution caused by routinely used polythene packaging materials.amount of sunshine so that they decay at a predictable rate. The manufacturers of plastic packaging like soft drink bottles/mineral water bottles etc must come forward and develop appropriate methods of disposal/own responsibility for disposal. Plastic bags have made it possible for people to go without bags to market or work place as these bags are . to use eco-friendly paper packaging. It is going to extend this to other parts of the country also. which can be of some inconvenience to the retailer. etc.

Boys and girls. Instead of carrying these wastes . These plastic materials are so light that they are carried away by the speed of the moving vehicle. to enjoy their holidays or just for a change carry with them eatables in containers. plastic bottles etc.. making the surroundings look ugly. People should be specially educated regarding the use of plastic in our daily life. People who go on picnics. wind etc. mineral water bottles (plastic). These materials are recycled. The waste materials collected are of all types including plastic materials. People are in the habit of throwing things they don't need wherever they like irrespective of the final result. One can find this in tourist centres scattered all over. in particular. as they dispose off a part of non-degradable waste material. There are instances wherein these materials have clogged the underground drains. visiting historic places. road sides. the cleaning of roads in residential areas and other parts of the city. The BMP has given on contract basis. hill stations etc.availably for asking and can be thrown without a second thought. Road-side vendors also use plastic cups to serve coffee or tea. from dust bins. paper. 'plastic'. men and women with bags on their backs and a stick in one hand walking long distances. as it is environment unfriendly.. plastic cups. plastic bags. picking up plastic waste. such as plastic bags. to the collection centre to earn their livelihood. plastic plates and plastic cups and generally leave it in the open air after consuming the contents. scattered all over. These rag pickers sell the waste collected. The customers throw these cups on foot paths or near drains after consuming the contents. is a common sight in Bangalore.. Bangalorians must be grateful to them. bottles etc.

dogs to share the leftovers. as left over can be removed by rolling the sheet at a stretch. stray cows. they are burnt on the road side polluting the area with thick smoke which produce toxic gases (because of burning of plastic material) posing a health hazard. when buried under the ground. In this process. we generally find coffee and tea being served in plastic cups (use and throw) which the traveling public after consuming it throw them away in village fields and field channels on the way. This should be properly monitored by the Health Department of the BMP and immediate action taken on violators. While traveling in trains. paper. Plastic being non-degradable. These are thrown near the dust bin. There is the likelihood of this collecting near the outlet of the channel obstructing the free flow of water into the fields. arrest the percolation of water into the ground. They resort to burning of waste material with the main intention of reducing the number of trips a lorry has to take. One can find near the dust bin. it has become a practice to use thin plastic sheets to cover the dining tables to give it a good look and also so that it is easy to clean the table. thin plastic cups are also used for drinking water. Animals grazing in the field consuming this plastic waste along with grass cannot be ruled out. Inhaling of such gases causes lung diseases and even cancer. Besides this. Now-a-days. waiting slum children. Burning of waste material in public is a serious offence and violation of Corporation bylaws. Leaves and other degradable waste can be converted into manure. crows. they fight amongst themselves and stray cows in majority of cases have consumed thin plastic sheets . glass etc. Arrangements must be made to segregate recycling items such as plastic. which also finds a place in the dust bin. in almost all functions.away.

municipalities of cities and towns. along with plastic bags. The factory management should take all measures to control the pollution created. action should be taken to shift it immediately. it has caused enough damage to the nature. It has killed many animals and introduced many health ailments in humans too. If the industry is located in a residential area. Man introduced plastic and used it in many forms. Its disposal and production has increased the mortality rate of living beings. leading to untold sufferings and also found dead on many occasions. within the stipulated norms by the KSPB and the pollution board should monitor it regularly. it is time to be aware of the harm it causes to the life on earth. plastic cups.along with left over. The Health Department of the BMP. Plastic industries manufacturing plastic bags (below 20 microns) thin sheets. Solution Though commodities made of plastic come handy. Karnataka Pollution Board has a greater role to play in making Karnataka eco-friendly and a place to live in safely for the future generation. Plastic is one of the key ingredients that causes contamination of environment. However. suggested that a ban be placed on the use of plastic sheets. It is therefore. should be informed about its ill-effects on the environment and advised not to manufacture such items. thin cups and thin bottles. Before the picture turns . The public should be educated regarding littering dumping and unnecessary burning of wastes.

To bring a decline in the usage of plastic. There are biodegradable plastic bags available which can reduces the problem of plastic pollution. It will save the animals and reduce the chances of litter. might not be always easy. If people take the initiative to use their own bags. but taking such small steps can contribute to reduction of plastic pollution. shift to using paper or cloth bags for grocery shopping and avoid bringing plastic bags at home. it stays for many years. Use the garbage bins to keep the environment free from plastic. think again! The chemicals emitted through burning will contaminate the atmosphere and cause respiratory problems in humans. but its effects are always good and safe. These changes might be gradual and even seem micro against the huge plastic pollution problem. Once produced. burning can help you get rid of plastic. There is no way to get rid of plastic. So if you think. In recent times due to widespread awareness drive by NGOS and government and to lesser extent by educational institutions has resulted in increasing the consciousness among few shopkeepers they have shifted back to the old system of wrapping up goods in . Adapting to a positive change. As this article has displayed the effects of plastic pollution. The disposed plastic can be recycled and used in many different ways such as tote bag.even more ugly. wallets or a pouch. the shopkeeper too will turn to purchasing paper bags. Learn some plastic pollution facts and make yourself aware of the consequences of dumping plastic in water and land. it is better to take some effective preventive measures to reduce plastic pollution. it is time to take some preventive steps to stop it and make living better for the future generations.

An exception is plastic. Appliances designed to become obsolete guarantee you'll have to buy new ones next year. we throw away more and more trash. making the plastic and razor industries rich and happy. Plastic razors can only be used a few times before disposal. Industry is pushing disposability because it pays. To a large extent.and the environment. The plastics industry is jumping on the "green" bandwagon with a new line of "environmentally safe" products. Due to technical and . Each year. recycled or composted instead of being buried or burned. the authorities should gear up its machinery for effective waste management and disposal of plastic". Unfortunately. as industry produces more and more nonessential products individually and excessively packaged. then more must be bought. It has also been suggested "Rather than spending money on anti-plastic campaign. many states do not have units to recycle the plastic while the plastic manufacturers are not prepared to take it up as a social responsibility. even school students have come forward to take up a promotion campaign for the use of paper or cloth bags. which comprises about 7 percent by weight or 20 percent by volume of municipal solid waste.paper bags or newspapers. Over 84 percent (by weight) of municipal solid waste could be reused. Some people are slowly getting habituated to going to the market with cloth bags. our garbage problem is a result of a corporate ethic that puts profits before people -. these products are no friend of the environment. In reality. Besides a few NGOs.

2. Ladies can fold a cotton bag or two in to their purses which can be used to quench their sudden urge for shopping. Offices can distribute canvas bags as New Year gifts instead of diaries and other sweet nothings. 7. "plastic recycling" only defers the plastic disposal problem. Recycled polystyrene foam (also known by the brand name Styrofoam) can be used to build marine docks but not to make a new polystyrene foam cup. 8. Educate the local retailers on the ill effects of use of plastics. Use a wicker basket. less than ten percent of plastic is currently "recycled. and eventually all the plastic will have to be disposed of. 3. Various alternatives to Plastic bags: 1. Use biodegradable bags made from fabrics. New plastic will have to be produced from nonrenewable oil stocks to make those cups. 4. Donate old news papers and magazines to small scale institutes that cut these old papers in to paper bags and packets. Greenhouse Gases . 9. Insist your local retailers to use plastic bags of thicker variety if at all he has to use.) 6. Better still buy a foldable shopping trolley.financial limitations. 5. (They can make a fashion statement today. Nylon bags can be used and reused several times. When you can buy a stroller for your new born this is not impossible you see." Furthermore. since most plastic items can only be manufactured from virgin plastic.

It's also possible to get 'plastic' bags manufactured from corn. These break down very quickly and give off no more methane than any other corn product on landfill sites. they're more expensive to produce and few shops use them. Choose biodegradable bags to use for litter (photodegradable bags used in this way are guaranteed to end up on landfill sites taking hundreds of years to break down). Unfortunately. the only solution is a re-think of attitude: • • • • Re-use bags when shopping. Until a real alternative is freely available.Some countries have introduced so-called "environmentally friendly plastic bags" that are biodegradable. the truth is that the process of breaking down these petrol based bags causes carbon to become methane which is a greenhouse gas. Re-use large plastic sacks whenever possible Refrigerate food in containers rather than plastic bags . These bags take about three years to break down into practically nothing and while that sounds like an attractive solution.

with little lasting effect. Here are some of the harmful effects of plastic bags: Plastic bags litter the landscape: Once they are used. About a hundred billion plastic bags are used each year in the US alone. the numbers can be staggering. And then. The problem is further exacerbated by the developed countries shipping off their plastic waste to developing countries like India.Harmful effects of plastics Every once in a while the government here passes out an order banning shop keepers from providing plastic bags to customers for carrying their purchases. most plastic bags go into landfill. when one considers the huge economies and populations of India. lightweight. functional. Plastic bags are very popular with both retailers as well as consumers because they are cheap. killing wildlife. Once they . Even though they are one of the modern conveniences that we seem to be unable to do without. and using up the precious resources of the earth. or rubbish tips. Each year more and more plastic bags are ending up littering the environment. China. Europe. and other parts of the world. as well as a hygienic means of carrying food as well as other goods. they are responsible for causing pollution. strong.

turtles whales. Plastic bags kill animals: About 100. Petroleum is vital for our modern way of life. if they are burned. penguins are killed every year due to plastic bags. parks. and streets. since we have been using this non renewable resource increasingly. And. Plastic bags are non-biodegradable: And one of the worst environmental effects of plastic bags is that they are non-biodegradable. the ingested plastic bag remains intact even after the death and decomposition of the animal. transport. . The decomposition of plastic bags takes about 1000 years. Thus. plastic bags find their way into our waterways. it would lead to practically the whole world grinding to a halt. Many animals ingest plastic bags. they infuse the air with toxic fumes. and therefore die.become litter. Without viable alternative sources of energy yet on the horizon. Dangers to Sea Life: Plastic bags are now amongst the top 12 items of debris most often found along coastlines ranging from Spitzbergen in the north to the Falklands in the south. and so on.000 animals such as dolphins. Petroleum is required to produce plastic bags: As it is. heating. this precious resource should not be wasted on producing plastic bags. petroleum products are diminishing and getting more expensive by the day. beaches. It is necessary for our energy requirements – for our factories. Surely. And worse. if the supply of petroleum were to be turned off. it lies around in the landscape where another victim may ingest it. lighting. mistaking them for food.

as was any paper that wasn't needed for lighting fires. What did we do? For one. eggshells. Peelings. Garbage Bins One question that's often raised in connection with the plastic bag dilemma is what should be used to line bins if not plastic bags? To answer that. we had far less garbage. Every bag thats washed down a drain during rainfall ends up in the sea every bag thats flushed down a toilet.there's really . Others become entangled in plastic bags and drown. Goods had much less packaging than is the case today so we didn't fill our bins as quickly. a dead turtle with a plastic bag hanging from its mouth isnt a pleasant sight but mistaking plastic bags for food is commonplace amongst marine animals. Plastic clogs their intestines and leads to slow starvation.Animals and sea creatures are hurt and killed every day by discarded plastic bags. If we choose carefully when shopping so as not to bring home more packaging than necessary . There's no need to go any further back than the 70s. Because plastic bags take hundreds of years to break down. let's go back in time to when plastic bags were yet to become commonplace. tea bags and coffee grounds were all composted. every year our seas become home to more and more bags that find their way there through our sewers and waterways. What was left went into an unlined bin with anything sloppy being wrapped in newspaper first. ends up in the sea every bag thats blown into a river will most likely end up in the sea.

though. instead of buying plastic liners. at least. If you really must line your bins.no point in bringing it home just to throw it straight in the bin when we unpack . it's possible to use newspaper.and keep a compost bin going. You won't be able to pull everything out. even less will need to be binned. perhaps the comfortable lives we have today just make everything appear more difficult than it really is. Tins. of course. That doesn't mean to say you can't lobby your local authority for change. Obviously. tie it up and put it out. Now that we have re-cycling plants. . Explain why you need to leave the bin outside and that it's their duty to support any move that will improve the environment. People managed before. you'll have to continue using plastic bags. the amount of waste that goes into the kitchen bin will be halved. but you'll be able to tip it from your kitchen bin into the main bin without too much mess. bottles and paper (we generally have too much for the compost heap these days) can all be delivered to the local re-cycling point. if you live in an area where the garbage collectors expect to find bin liners neatly arranged along the edge of the street rather than the bins themselves.

“We have recorded plastic bags in the Bay of Biscay [in western Europe] over 120 miles from shore in waters over 4. Remarks a British marine biologist.” . on being autopsied. A whale dies in an urban harbor and.Making the Wild Safe for Wildlife The news comes with depressing regularity. also take in plastic bags by accident and hence are also at risk. which take large mouthfuls of water during feeding. Other species of large whales. squid. reveals a stomach full of plastic.000 meters in depth. the most abundant detritus of civilization. Beaked whale species in particular are highly susceptible to swallowing plastic bags as they are believed to strongly resemble their target prey.

In November 2008 in Australia. perhaps even thousands. a 10-foot-long crocodile tagged as part of a government wildlife-tracking program turned up dead. some conservationists estimate that at least 100. had been relocated to a popular tourist destination called Magnetic Island. the numbers of fish killed by them are unknown. such that it is not a stretch to imagine a single bag killing more than one animal over a very long lifetime on land and sea. but they are sure to number in the millions. The first to do so . joining myriad aquatic species who suffer the effects of discarded bags in the environment. a flamingo strangles itself on a bag. however. The bad news continues. “Whitey probably was picking up plastic long before [being moved]. and countries around the world have taken measures to limit or ban the use of throwaway plastic bags. A platypus suffers deep cuts from a plastic bag entwined around its body. And while the statistics are incomplete. Word of that devastation is spreading. Another scientist has recorded 170 kinds of land animals and birds injured by plastics washed up on British beaches. while a pelican dies after consuming plastic bags while diving for fish. having consumed 25 plastic shopping and garbage bags. unable to twist its way out of the entangling plastic.” Plastics take hundreds. turtles. dolphins. felled by the estimated 500 billion and more plastic bags that are produced and consumed around the world. and authorities at first feared that he had died as a result of eating garbage left behind by visitors.Elsewhere. Said Keith Williams of the group Australian Seabird Rescue. of years to break down in most environments. Calves. as the crocodile was dubbed. seals—the list of victims goes on. Whitey.000 mammals and birds die from them each year.

and the tax money that was generated funded a greatly expanded recycling program throughout the country. In 2003 the government of Taiwan put in place a system by which bags were no longer made available in markets without charge.025 millimeters thick. and thus far consumption of the bags has fallen markedly as 90 percent of the country’s retailers have signed on to the program. this has caused a serious waste of energy and resources and environmental pollution because of excessive usage. which banned plastic bags in 2002. Larger economies have joined the cause. following a particularly damaging typhoon. inadequate recycling and other reasons. “Our country consumes a huge amount of plastic shopping bags each year. Italy will also ban them that year. to go into effect in 2010. and China has already prohibited bags less than 0.” In the United States. the plastics industry argues that jobs will disappear—and the industry . use fell by 90 percent as a result. “While plastic shopping bags provide convenience to consumers. Ireland took another approach and instituted a steep tax on plastics.was Bangladesh.” a spokesperson for China’s State Council said on announcing the ban last May. Australia has called for a voluntary ban. According to the country’s Ministry of Environment. measures to ban or curtail the use of plastic bags have met with official resistance. however. French legislators imposed a ban on all nonbiodegradable plastic bags. With its powerful lobby. contributing to the destruction. In 2005. authorities discovered that millions of bags were clogging the country’s system of flood drains. In the same year. and carryout restaurants were even required to charge for plastic utensils.

at least until consumers catch on and stop paying the surcharge by carrying their own shopping bags. more and more grocery stores in the United States are offering small incentives to customers who do so. the equivalent of throwing away 12 million gallons of oil. it seems a very real possibility—and that is a most welcome development for wildlife around the world. But these are not good times. The previous year. . at least in good times—if the trade in plastic bags is reduced. reuse. gives a small cash credit. National Public Radio reported a few months later that the ban had been a boon for local plastics manufacturers. the New York State Legislature passed legislation requiring the “reduction. and critics point out that Americans alone throw out at least 100 billion bags a year. Trader Joe’s. bans or no. Thus. And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has lately been talking of imposing a citywide tax of six cents for every plastic bag dispensed—one source of quick revenue in tight times. even in the United States. who have been introducing heavy-duty. the city of San Francisco banned plastic bags altogether. recyclable. another chain. at least the flimsy ones of yore. Could the plastic grocery bag one day be a relic. During its 2008 session. offers such customers raffle tickets for free groceries. the no-bags campaign is gaining ground. speaking directly to our wallets. while Albertson’s. and even compostable bags into the marketplace. a popular California-based chain. which seems an intolerable waste. Just so. and recycling” of checkout bags.employs some two million workers. like the eight-track tape and the Model A? Given current trends.

If there are four people in your family. that's 332 plastic bags less every year. . Remember that each person uses about 83 bags a year. you can make a huge difference to the pollution problem. That's 332 bags less that will: • • • • • Release toxins into the ground water from landfill sites Stay in the environment for hundreds of years while they break down Get into the food chain through animals that ingest small particles of plastic Waste energy during the manufacturing process Kill any of the estimated 100. Should we really put our own selfish needs before the needs of everything around us now and the lives of future generations? That's up to you to decide.000 marine animals that die each year of plastic pollution These are all-important factors that have a profound affect on our environment and the creatures we share our planet with.Conclusion By refusing to use plastic bags.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->