Why are Plastic bags harmful to Environment ?

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, with little lasting effect. Plastic bags are very popular with both retailers as well as consumers because they are cheap, strong, lightweight, functional, as well as a hygienic means of carrying food as well as other goods. Even though they are one of the modern conveniences that we seem to be unable to do without, they are responsible for causing pollution, killing wildlife, and using up the precious resources of the earth.

Why Are Plastic Bags So Harmful to Our Environment?

The environment on earth is a highly sensitive eco-system, and so many man-made objects can throw it out of balance and cause long lasting harm and damage. One such man-made material is plastic, and so the question lies: why are plastic bags so harmful to our environment?

So, why are plastic bags so harmful to our environment then? To begin to understand, the materials used in plastic bags have to be looked at. Polyethylene is used for the majority of bags- whether shopping bags or bin liners, and is a non biodegradable substance, which contains some harmful chemicals when it does eventually rot down a little. Because of its use in packing items, 80 million metric tonnes of polyethylene are made every year, and this all has to end up going somewhere. The odd thing about people wondering: ‘why are plastic bags so harmful to our environment?’ is that they do not actually need to be all that harmful. Polyethylene can now be recycled, so it is important people do look out for local facilities in their area and don’t just throw away their old bags.

The reason that so much damage is done to the environment when plastic bags are thrown away is mostly due to the fact it clogs up landfill sites, and takes centuries to rot down (although a recent finding means that in the future the government may be able to help them rot down quicker by using fungi). There is also, though, the fact that plastic bags are often discarded in a way that means they will end up in the world’s seas. Plastic is a lightweight substance and the wind will often carry it out to sea where it can destroy marine habitats. Sea creatures may eat it and choke to death as it twists up in their digestive system, or it may suffocate or harm animals and emit toxins into the waters.

Choking is not only a hazard for marine sea life though, as plastic bags can affect any part of the environment. Anywhere there are animals; there is a risk of killing or harming them if a plastic bag is introduced into the landscape. This is why all plastic bags, if they cannot be reused, should be safely discarded and weighed down to prevent their movement from a landfill.

Plastic bags can also line forest floors, or wooded environments, if caught up on trees and rocks and prevent nutrients and new seeds reaching the soil, thus stopping the chance of any new plants growing on that bit of land. This is not a major problem yet, and can easily be reversed by moving them, but if more bags get clogged up in situations like this, it has the potential for long term damage.

Here are some of the harmful effects of plastic bags:

Plastic bags litter the landscape. Once they are used, most plastic bags go into landfill, or rubbish tips. Each year more and more plastic bags are ending up littering the environment. Once they become litter, plastic bags find their way into our waterways, parks, beaches, and streets. And, if they are burned, they infuse the air with toxic fumes.

Plastic bags kill animals. About 100,000 animals such as dolphins, turtles whales, penguins are killed every year due to plastic bags. Many animals ingest plastic bags, mistaking them for food, and therefore die. And worse, the ingested plastic bag remains intact even after the death and decomposition of the animal. Thus, it lies around in the landscape where another victim may ingest it.

Plastic bags are non-biodegradable. And one of the worst environmental effects of plastic bags is that they are non-biodegradable. The decomposition of plastic bags takes about 1000 years.

Petroleum is required to produce plastic bags. As it is, petroleum products are diminishing and getting more expensive by the day, since we have been using this non-renewable resource increasingly. Petroleum is vital for our modern way of life. It is necessary for our energy requirements – for our factories, transport, heating, lighting, and so on.

So, What Can be Done about the Use of Plastic Bags?

Single-use plastic bags have become such a ubiquitous way of life that it seems as if we simply cannot do without them. However, if we have the will, we can start reducing their use in small ways.

1.A tote bag can make a good substitute for holding the shopping. You can keep the bag with the cahier, and then put your purchases into it instead of the usual plastic bag.
2.Recycling the plastic bags you already have is another good idea. These can come into use for various purposes, like holding your garbage, instead of purchasing new ones.

While governments may be working out ways to lessen the impact of plastic bags on the environment, however, each of us should shoulder some of the responsibility for this problem, which ultimately harms us.

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