3 Reasons Why We Should Move On from Plastic Bags: Encouraging Responsible Shopping Behavior

3 Reasons Why We Should Move On from Plastic Bags: Encouraging Responsible Shopping Behavior

Excessive use of plastic bags has deemed to be arguably bad for either the environment or the ecology of animals. The argument that is mostly thrown out there is that because these plastic pouches has a low degradability, it will took at least a 1,000 years for it to be dissolved by itself. Other argument says that sea turtles are dying for eating microplastic that came from our plastic waste, mistaking it for food. In Jakarta, Indonesia, every retailers in town has stopped serving plastic bags for their costumer, that’s good, and this article will explain why.

Production of Plastic Bags Will Contribute to Climate Change

It is in fact, capable in contribution to climate change, it is because plastic bags is made out of non-renewable resources, and the production process requires them too. Most of the plastic bags that retailers gave you is made out of polyethylene, a substance that is derived from crude oil refining and natural gas processing. Both of those substances are non-renewable, and through their extraction and production, they emit greenhouse gases, which will contribute to global climate change, and worst thing is, the production took a lot of these resources.

A machine in a plastic bags factory
A machine in a plastic bags factory

Apparently, around 8%-10% of the global oil supply goes to a plastic bags manufacturing, and in United States alone, 12 million barrels of oil are used each year to produce these bags. Considering how much non-renewable resources we need, production will surely be expensive. Well, it’s surely is, and even after the bags made it to the retailers you still have to pay for it, it’s only 3-5 cents, but imagine how much plastic we’ll be purchasing for a year. After the plastic bags become a pollution, someone has to pay for waste collection, and regular cleanups.

Uncertain Final Destination

What we mean is that it is uncertain where and when will these plastic bags ends up or die out. These bags are based on petroleum which composed of a very resistant synthetic polymers that may take up to 1,000 years or even never until they completely degrade in natural environments. Even if it does degrade, it won’t go anywhere, it stays. When out in the environment, the plastic breaks up into tiny microscopic pieces that get deposited in soils or contaminating waterways, possibly contaminating our food as well, invinsible but it’s there.

Speaking of contaminated water, you might interested in: Famous for Being Dirty, Ciliwung River of Indonesia: 119 Km of Disgustingly Defiled Water

People only use plastic bags for 12 minutes in average, and the next thing you know, those bags ends up in the soil, oceans, and stomachs of wildlife. Recycling is an option, a difficult one however. Recycling requires a specialized equipment that can break down the plastic and mold it into a new product, in which require a high budget a city couldn’t afford. Another problem is that the plastic bags needs to be clean to be recycled, and as you can see outside, most of plastic waste are extraordinarily dirty.

Harmful for Organic Life

Ah yes, the mortal enemy of sea turtles, plastic waste. Sea turtles aren’t born underwater, sea turtles lay their eggs in the sands of a beach, and as soon as it hatches, baby sea turtles will struggle to move back to the sea. We can found plastic bags lying in the sands quite often, for us it just a tiny nuisance, but for those baby sea turtles, these bags are obstacle that makes their struggle of survival even harder. Even if the baby sea turtles reached the finish line and grow up into adulthood, they seems can’t catch a break from the plastic waste.

Sea turtles will mistook floating plastic bags as a jellyfish, one of the main sources of food for some species of sea turtles. A study carried out in 2013 reveal up to 35% of sea turtle deaths were caused by plastic ingestion and the probability that sea turtles will consume even more plastic increases every year. Around year 1999-2000, a dead pelican was found with its stomach filled with 17 plastic bags. In 2008, a crocodile in Australia died because of 25 plastic bags filling its stomach, while a calf had to be put down because of 8 plastic bags in its stomach. For the sea turtles point of view, go watch this video from National Geographic

A sea turtle trying to eat a plastic bag, mistaking it as a jellyfish

Photo is taken from: World Wildlife Funds (WWF)
A sea turtle trying to eat a plastic bag, mistaking it as a jellyfish
Photo is taken from: World Wildlife Funds (WWF)

So, plastic bags are often mistaken for food by animals, birds, and marine life. This accidental ingestions will lead to health issues such as infections, painful intestinal blockage, starvation or death by suffocation. Not only limited to ingestion, plastic waste can also entangle these animals, making them unable to fly, eat, and breathe, eventually strangling themselves to death. A 2018 study of coral reefs in the Asia-Pacific has confirmed that plastic waste deposited on coral reefs promotes outbreaks of diseases that gradually destroy whole reef colonies.

If you’re wondering whether if these plastics affects humans as well, apparently the answer is yes. Tiny plastic particles can be found in our consumables sometimes, like tap water and seafood. We don’t know yet how exactly our metabolism and immunity will react to these plastic particles, but scientists argued that it will put stress on our liver and will interrupt our digestive system to absorb important nutrients. Plastic waste that clogs water drainage channels and river will expose residents to water-borne diseases.

For a detailed arguments, you can check the source: 10 Reasons Why Should We Ban Plastic Bags, By Greentumble, February 19th, 2019

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