Plastic Bags and Environment

Human commodity and clean environment are seldom found together. Unfortunately, it is easier and more convenient to use traditional plastic bags instead of any eco-friendly alternatives. This decision is often supported by the idea that plastic can be recycled and applied again. However, only a few plants are ready to do that. So, most part of bags turns into piles of rubbish which harms everything around. People should be aware of the fact that plastic bags affect land, animals, waterways, and even human health. One cannot either burn or throw them away after using. Ignorance of this problem does not reduce its negative influence. It is my firm belief that awareness of the danger plastic bags cause is the first step towards better environment. People must stop using plastic bags to reduce pollution and protect a new generation from the consequences of having this traditional human commodity.

A typical citizen is used to throwing out all plastic bags together with other unnecessary things but it is not the best way of solving the problems caused by this commodity. Plastic bags are easily blown away by wind. They can be forgotten or intentionally left on the beach after swimming and relaxing. Plastic is not biodegradable and it is difficult to recycle it. Thus, Muthu states that practically all plastic bags are made of either low-density polyethylene or linear low-density polyethylene. These components are non-renewable. In some time plastic turns into smaller pieces which are even worse than a bag. This litter is carried away to a big distance and often gets into waterways. It is necessary to stress that such rubbish is not only ugly, but also a big hazard to the environment. In fact, the humanity faces a catastrophic littering trouble if the amount of this plastic rubbish will not go down. Billions of bags are used and thrown away every year, but it takes them about 500 years to degrade.

 
 

The human commodity under consideration is very harmful to animals. About 200 thousands are killed every year. It happens because of two reasons. Some animals die as they get stuck in bags after looking for food. Others are killed due to destroyed digestive system. The creatures frequently confuse bags with food. In addition, this does not concern only street animals. The same may happen to cows and sheep which are grazed on the field polluted with plastic. For example, more than a hundred of cows died in India in 2000 because of eating discarded plastic bags. Such tendency is worldwide and demonstrated by a great number of researchers in this field. “The sight of plastic bags littering the landscape has become so common that the Irish have been known to call them their national flower”. It is evident that animals do not become extinct only because of hunting and global warming, but plastic pollution also contributes to this. 

As it was already mentioned, plastic rubbish reaches water and, of course, it does not influence only liquid, but sea inhabitants as well. Scientists state that the affect is much worse than the one which occur among land animals. According to statistic data, more than 100,000 mammals and turtles die because of plastic annually. It is also necessary to remember that rubbish in water can harm ships and cause catastrophes. Plastic litter can easily get into boat engines and break their usual work. There is the information given by the United Nation Environmental Programme that “over 13,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating on every square kilometer of ocean surface”. This rubbish is brought by storm waters, fishers and cruise liners. Sea animals swallow plastic bags like food. According to the survey focused on western North Atlantic seabirds, small pieces of plastic have been found in 21 of 38 species seabirds. These facts prove that such litter is a serious danger to sea life. 

It is difficult to believe that there is no recycling mechanism for plastic at the moment. Humanity invented ‘environmentally friendly plastic bags’ which are biodegradable during three years. However, they are not harmless. The process of breaking down dangerous plastic turns into the creation of methane, which is known as a greenhouse gas. One can get rid of plastic this way but atmosphere will be affected. 

It may seem strange, but plastic bags contribute to flooding. It happens because of the impossibility to be broken down completely. This litter blocks storm drains and other places resulting in serious flooding. As for the situation in the oceans, there is more plastic litter in them than plankton. This is one more evidence proving that comfortable plastic bags must be replaced by some secure alternatives. 

It is necessary to take into consideration the fact that it is costly to produce plastic bags. A lot of energy and recourses are needed. The humanity should stop making these bags in order to conserve energy. Thus, “the substance applied for plastic bags production used at supermarkets, needs about 0.48 megajoules of energy to manufacture and transport the product”. In other words, the creation of a great number of plastic bags is a huge waste of money, energy and other resources. Especially, when the humanity faces the necessity to spend even more energy to reduce the negative impact of plastic litter to environment. The price of oil goes up because of climate change and it is right time to invent a perfect alternative for plastic bags to prevent problems in the future. 

It turns out that plastic bags affect human health. It happens because of numerous chemical additives which make bags look attractive for consumers. Human body can be influenced by these things:

  1. harm made by mercury and cadmium,
  2. endocrine failure which may result in weak immune system, cancers, birth defects and problems with child’s development;
  3. carcinogens, “as in the case of diethylhexyl  phthalate”.

One may think that such harm to human health may happen only while manufacturing plastic. However, it is not so. Traditional use of bags at the shop may lead to the same problems. Dangerous chemicals easily move from packages to the food inside and get into human organism. “In studies cited in Food Additives and Contaminants, LDPE, HDPE, and polypropylene bottles released measurable levels of BHT, Chimassorb 81, Irganox PS 800, Irganix 1076, and Irganox 1010 into their contents of vegetable oil and ethanol. Evidence was also found that acetaldehyde migrated out of PET and into water”. So, if one wants to avoid the problems mentioned above, it is necessary to stop using the commodity under analysis. 

Plastic bags are not as harmless as they may seem at first sight. They are the source of garbage which is a big danger both for animals and human beings. The environment is also affected. This commodity must be banned to protect nature, animals and people from its negative influence. 

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