It is a common foe that was introduced roughly & over 25 years ago
Now plastic bags have become a global consumption in daily life and we use them so carelessly that we do not even realize the ACTUAL damage they are causing
It is estimated that over 500 BILLION to 1 Trillion plastic bags are used during the year by people globally. Yes that’s Billion with a ‘B’ and Trillion with ‘T’ (we are way passed the million mark)
The plastic bag begins its journey into production as crude oil and other various secondary petrochemicals. They also share mutual ingredients with pesticides and bring out harmful bi-products that are unsafe to living beings and this living planet’s living environment
high-density polyethylene – HDPE cause the most damage. You may use it just for one day and for even one purpose but after you are done with it, it remains around for the next 1000 years.
Not exactly the family heirloom you want to pass-down to your future generations
The IMPACT of the PLASTIC BAG on the Earth’s ENVIRONMENT Land Sea Sky
Plastic bags contribute to high levels of land pollution
Most plastic bags end up in landfills when they are used to dispose our
Even when they end up in landfills they do not degrade easily. When they finally do begin to degrade plastic breaks down into toxic particles that harm the soil through contamination of the nutrients within the soil that in turn effects trees and other plantations. These toxic particles then further make their way into the food chain of both man and animal.
A bear does not know that a plastic bag is harmful. Neither does a duck… Land pollution caused by plastic bags are hazardous to land animals who mistake it for food or suffocate from them Or an orangutan. But there is ONE ANIMAL that should know plastic bags pollute lands that cause drains to be blocked, soil to be contaminated, cause the deaths of animals that ingest it by mistake or get entangled in it and suffocate: The HUMAN No other animal for that matter knows
What we humans should know about the i mpact plastic bags have on land
Plastic bags are non-biodegradable therefore when they are thrown into landfills they remain there (though they are out of our individual sights they are not actually gone…. Not for another 300-1000 years!)
Plastic bags being non-biodegradable = they are water resistant = stoppage of rain water infiltrating the soil and movement of rain water on the surface area of the land = soil erosion
The water without infiltrating the soil then carries with it on the surface toxics that make their way with the water flow into clean bodies of water = pollution of water resources for both land animals and man.
Soil erosion = trees being uprooted exposing their roots that function to take in nutrients from the soil = trees dieing/weakening
Because plastic is water resistant and it blocks water from seeping into the soil vegetation, fruits and other plantations lose nutrients they naturally gain from the soil for growth.
When plastic bags float into drains, they block the control of water flow out of cities which contribute to massive floods in high density rural areas especially cities with rivers.
Livestock such as cows grazing open fields may accidentally take in plastic bags or pieces of plastic bags.
the IMPACT on the sky Plastic bags are made out of polythene a flexible , low weight , thin material. Then it is not surprising that sometimes plastic bags or pieces of them are found most anywhere causing harm to the environment. Roughly 47% of garbage that is “ gone with the wind” are plastic bags. They blow easily with the winds and end up entangled in trees. “ I go where the wind takes me!”, sayeth the plastic bag Once entangled in trees they are harmful to birds and other animals that reside in the trees causing damage to their livelihoods.
Plastic bags contribute to the damage of the natural layer of protection which this planet has given us ! Sometimes garbage disposed in plastic bags are burned- thinking we are burning away our waste. What we don’t realize is that when plastic is burned it emits strong hazardous chemicals into the air causing massive air pollution. Air pollution in turn causes damage to the Ozone Layer The ozone layer, over 10 miles high surrounding the Earth above is what protects us from Ultra-Violate radiation emitted by the sun . Damage to the Ozone layer causes increase in skin cancer for both humans and animals. Impact on the Ozone layer = sever damage to the Ecosystem: destruction of plantation, and imbalance of the food-chain in the oceans. Causing scarcity of food for marine life.
the IMPACT on Sea & water Plastic bags due to their light weight are easily carried by the wind and end up in clean bodies of water containing aquatic life where they slowly degrade for generations. Aquatic life in small bodies of water are not alone as victims to plastic bags
the IMPACT on Sea Marine life is severely effected by our consumption of plastic bags. That is because a plastic bag in its low weight, and thin outlook resembles a jellyfish : a common source of food for many sea creatures. Annually an estimated tens of thousands of turtles , birds , seals and whales die due to the consumption of plastic bags mistaking it for food. When plastic bags enter the digestive system of marine life it is not excreted by the animal. Instead it stagnates in the animal’s gut till the animal dies. Once the animal dies due to the plastic bag clogging its digestive system to function properly, it decomposes and once again the plastic bag is released into the ocean to continue its damage.
Some Marine Pollution Bulletins from the United Nations Environment Program
“ Dead stranded sea turtles were recovered and examined to determine the impact of anthropogenic debris and fishery activities on sea turtles on the coast of Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil. Esophagus/stomach contents of 38 juvenile green Chelonia mydas, 10 adults and sub-adults loggerhead Caretta caretta, and two leatherback Dermochelys coriacea turtles (adult or sub-adult) included plastic bags as the main debris ingested, predominated by white and colorless pieces.”
2001, Upper South-West Atlantic, off Brazil
“ .. plastic bags accounted for a very high percentage (up to 95% or more) of total debris.”
2003, Seine Bay
If you do not know the location of Seine Bay, it is of little importance, what is important is that you realize it is some where on this planet , the same one you are on seated at your computer reading this right now.
Africa Kenya and Uganda are banning thin plastic bags and placing tariffs on thick plastic bags. South Africa’s actions towards the issue of plastic bag have fairly restricted the number of bags found carelessly disposed in the country. The African nation taking the most strongly voiced action is Tanzania banning the plastic bag completely in 2006. Some World action against Plastic Bags United States In the US, San Francisco has taken the big step to ban plastic bags. It hopes other US cities will follow in its example. California has implemented an educational program which pushes businesses in the direction of promoting the message of re-using bags. Canada Canada shows action towards the problem of plastic bags through the Ontario government that has stated its commitment to the reduction of usage by 50% within the next half decade. China China plans on implementing a tax on the use of plastic bags as well – this tax in turn would be utilized to generate capital to deal with pollution caused by plastic bags. Australia Australia began its battle against plastic bags in 2006 in Victoria, by asking consumers to pay for the plastic bags they use. They are hoping this step in Victoria will see the rest of Australia follow a path towards reducing the consumption of plastic bags. Ireland Ireland is considered one of the golden samples of the global community fighting the plague of plastic bags. Their tax ‘PlasTax’ has shown an average reduction in plastic bag consumption. Though there have been some step-backs where numbers have depleted and then increased Ireland is determined to keep it’s efforts in success. India In Goa, India: people are giving in old magazines and newspapers for the production of paper bags to aid in the reduction of plastic bag consumption.
Lets start by answering that infamous question we are asked:
Some of us choose plastic thinking we can re-use and recycle
Others choose paper thinking they are definitely choosing the best option
But the reality of it is apparently:
The ideal answer is ‘Neither’
The production of paper takes up to 4x more energy than plastic
Millions of trees are cut down for the production of paper bags (you might as well let the plastics uproot them right?) (well not exactly..)
Paper does have a higher recycling rate than plastic
But Paper bags produce pollutants too
Paper bags though they do disintegrate sometimes too remain in landfills without degrading
So then choosing plastic is better right? Because you can re-use it again – well not really unless you plan on re-using that same one plastic bag for everything you do with a plastic bag for the next 300-1000 years.
So if paper is not THE most suitable option and plastic is definitely a NO then what is a ‘yes’?
Say hello to the cloth bag!
Use a cloth bag when you go grocery shopping to carry dried food items. Carry a special lining cloth bag that is water resistant – (yes it will then contain plastic but at least you won’t see it blowing in the wind ending up in many places causing harm nor will you be burning it!)
And you can use the cloth bag not ONCE, not TWICE but all year long. If not use biodegradable bags and store your frozen items in containers and not plastic bags
What can ‘You’ or ‘Me’ do? PAPER or plastic?
Don’t wait till your community leads you ! L ead the community !
“ There’s a little ‘he’ wave who’s bobbing up and down in the ocean off the shore, having a great time. All of a sudden, he realizes he’s going to crash into the shore. In this big wide ocean, he’s now moving toward the shore, and he’ll be annihilated. “My god, what’s going to happen to me?” he says a sour and despairing look on his face. Along comes a female wave, bobbing up and down, having great time. “Why are you so depressed?” she asks the he wave. The male wave says, “You don’t understand. You’re going to crash into that shore, and you’ll be nothing.” She says, “You don’t understand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.” – Tuesdays with Morrie , Mitch Albom
If we are to live on this planet we must not think ‘I’ we must think about
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This presentation contains originally written content and photography. Factual information has been researched from the following sources: