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Plastic bag threatens marine life

A proposal for a better Chao Phraya

By Bink Vijitkasemkij A science-Humanities Report
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The Chao Phraya river, or as they call it The life blood of Thailand has been the most important river of Thailand for centuries. Other than providing the Thai people food, the Chao Phraya river has also provided them water for drinking, farm irrigation, water for bathing, and transportation routes for boats, and ferries to deliver goods all over Thailand to other countries nearby as well. Over time, drastic and major changes have happened to the river, people are littering plastic bags and chemicals (soap, fertilizer, dish detergent etc) into the water. Marine creatures are ingesting them, which leads to them dying and disappearing. The water isnt as clean as it used to be. In order to make the river healthy again, we need to take action, and be aware of what we do that will affect the river, to make the river more sustainable and healthy again.


In the course week of February 2014, the year 7s took a trip along the Chao Phraya River to observe many indicators and things that are affecting the rivers health. There are many things that are negatively affecting the river as seen below:

Quality indicators of my problem Plastic bags floating Dead fish Styrofoam boxes Card board containers

Current level High some some some

Predicted positive trend if innovation is implemented Less (50-60% decreased) Probably none some Fewer

People get the plastic from Street vendors, markets etc Because they are using it.



As seen in the systems map above, Plastic bags seen floating in the river causes many negative changed to the river systems. Scientifically, Plastic bags are usually torn into tiny pieces by the movement of the water, which causes animals to think it is food, so they ingest it, which then leads to suffocation, death, decrease in its species population, and its disappearance in the food chain, which is actually quite a major problem, since that can affect other animal species and maybe even us. Most importantly, when people see plastic bags, or dead animals floating on the surface of the water, they might think it is too late to help, so they stop caring about the river, and think it is alright for them to start littering, since the river is already dirty. This is really bad, because people will continue to buy plastic bags and pollute the water and the earth, since plastic is non-degradable and has to be burned down, so the carbon dioxide that comes from bring the plastic will negatively affect the earth as well.

PERSPECTIVES ON PLASTIC BAGS Different stakeholders give different impacts and perspectives on the river system. STAKEHOLDERS Street vendor IMPACT They like plastic bags because since it is easy, convenient, and common to find. It can fit a lot of things, and is strong. They do not like plastic or plastic bags; they may mistake them for food and consume it, causing suffocation or death. They get these plastic bags when they buy things from the street vendors, or market. They like to use it because it can carry a lot of their stuff, but afterward, they are most likely to throw them away instead of recycling it. They get these plastic bags when they buy things from the street vendors, or market. They like to use it because it can carry a lot of their stuff, but afterward, they are most likely to throw them away, and it ends up in the rivers or klongs.

Fish/ marine creatures

People/ Consumers



As seen in the systems map above, there are many different reasons why plastic bags can be seen floating on the river. Some of these significant reasons are: The amount of trash cans that are put up along the river There are no serious consequences for people when they litter People are doing it the easy way (e.g. Plastic bags are cheaper than biodegradable bags, also, it can be found anywhere, and everyone is using it, so Ill use it too!) Plastic bags are more popular, common and are cheaper. One plastic bag costs about 1 baht, whereas a biodegradable costs about 2-3 baht. The key to changing the system is at the point of street vendors, markets, and stall sellers are using plastic bags. This is an ideal point to make a change, because it will stop the people (consumer) from getting the plastic bags in the first place, so that way, it will never be able to enter the water ways. This is also and ideal point to make a change, because there are many different innovations that can be implemented to change this factor positively.

My proposed innovation is to Encourage people (this includes everyone) to use recycled paper-paper bags instead of plastic bags. This innovation will be effective for the following reasons: NATURE Plastic is a non-degradable substance, which means it would never break down. Because of this, it causes many negative consequences and disturbs the nature system when thrown into rivers or klongs. Animals and marine creatures may mistaken it for food, if they eat it, it leads to suffocation, and death, which causes a really huge affect on the food chain, because if one specie becomes extinct, then many other animals population will majorly decrease and soon, there will be non left. If people (Street/food vendors, sellers, marketers) switch to using recycled paperpaper bags, then we will prevent the plastic bags from killing marine creatures and other animals, because if some animal happens to ingest it by mistake, the paper bags will be able to break down inside the animals stomach, having no effects on the animal itself. Also, if people accidentally litter into the ocean, then the water will be able to break it down and dissolve it, whereas, a normal plastic bag would never decompose, and as for a biodegradable bag will take 500-1000 years to break down. Using paper bags will keeps the water clean, and decreases the amount of plastic floating in the river. Also, we get to recycle paper that we are not using to make these bags, and we are not polluting the world too, since paper is biodegradable and can decompose in a week, so no burning is needed. ECONOMY Plastic bags are really cheap and common, that is why people are intended to use them. A seller can get order plastic bags from for 0.02 US dollars, which is about 1-3 Baht. Also, vendors and sellers can get plastic bags from all-purpose shops for approximately 30 baht for 1 kilo of plastic bags (20 x 10 approximately in size). A vendor/seller provides plastic bags for their consumer to put their goods in. Producing recycled paper-paper bags costs really cheap, even cheaper than plastic bags. It is also eco-friendly, and you can even make them by hand. Paper bags can be bought in various stationery shops for about 35 baht for 1 kg. If people start using more and more recycled paper-paper bags, they might become more common to find, and start to be popular (which is good) Also, a vendor can order paper bags from for 0.03 US dollars which is less than 1 baht. Also, it is made from recycled paper, so it is at a good price where street vendors and stall sellers can afford.

WELL-BEING There are many health hazard issue related to plastic bags. Plastic bags are most likely to cause injuries or even deaths to kids and children. Kids are most likely to play with them, which leads to suffocation and gangrene if played with the wrong way, they may get tangled and stop blood circulation (which leads to gangrene and death) or consumed and ingested which causes them to die. That is why all plastic wrappings and bags have a warning label on them. Also, the presence of plastic bags floating in the water in big dirty clumps may make people feel unhappy and depressed. Also, it destroys the environment and the health of the people around the area. Switching to recycled paper-paper bags, all of the health risk issues will clearly be addresses. Recycled paper-paper bags are cheap and clean. It causes to health threats or injuries to the people who are using them. The street vendors, sellers, and the consumers would feel good when they are using recycled paper-paper bags, because they know that they are making a difference, and what they are using isnt affecting the environment negatively. Also, if it is thrown into the river, the movement of water will break down the paper bags and soon it will dissolve, causing no negative affects to the river of waterways, and the water will still be clean. SOCIETY Recycled paper-paper bags are cheap, clean, and waterproof (if coated with a waxy substance) so street vendors and sellers can afford them from for 1 baht. Also, recycled paper-paper bags are biodegradable, so it will not effect the environment negatively. Also, tourists visiting Thailand may appreciate the eco-friendliness of Thailand and our usage of recycled paper-paper bags, and they might take action and do the same in their country, causing a positive worldwide change to the earth and environment.

The problem of plastic bags seen floating in the river can affect many other factors as well. For example, the amount of dead fish floating in the river, not as many waterfowls along the river, and dead water plants floating along the riverbanks. The people who are affected by the presence of plastic bags are the normal people that buy stuff from street, and use plastic bags to carry their things, and when they do not know what to do with it, the plastic bags mostly ends up it the river from them throwing it. The reason why street vendors and seller provides their costumers with plastic bags is because it is easy, cheap, and convenient, The fish and other marine animals will be affected negatively by the plastic bags, dying from ingesting them, as well as other ocean creatures as well, since the mouth of the river is in the South East Indian Ocean, by the Gulf of Thailand. The solution to all these negative issues is to encourage people to use recycled paper-paper bags. This is a good solution because recycled paper-paper bags are cheaper, and more hygienic than plastic bags connecting to the ECONOMY side of the compass. Also, if it is thrown into the river, the movement of water will break down the paper bags and soon it will dissolve, causing no negative affects to the river of waterways, and the water will still be clean, making people happier and healthier, living by cleaner water. This impacts the WELL-BEING and the NATURE point of the compass. The way it affects the SOCIETY point in the compass is it has no effects on the rivers, also, it is eco-friendly and non-pollutant, that way, it will not affect the people, or animals in any negative ways. Also, tourists visiting Thailand may appreciate the ecofriendliness of Thailand and our usage of recycled paper-paper bags, and they might take action and do the same in their country, which will lead to a positive world wide change as well.

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