What plastic bags do to the environment

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Apart from the betelnut obscenity around us, another looming problem is the amount of plastic waste being disposed in the wrong places. Not only is littering unattractive but it is also hazardous to the environment. We are so used to seeing plastic everywhere that it somehow does not seem like a problem anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, plastics benefit the society in numerous ways and will continue to, but the damaging effects of it are a big deal too. The harmful effects of plastic range from health risks to environmental risks, which is what I will focus on here.

While the wind plays some part in the amount of plastic bags disposed in the wrong places, it’s also undeniable that human laziness is a big player in this. It might seem like a good idea to carry potato chips and your SP cans in a plastic bag to the beach for a party but once consumed, many people will most likely allow the bag (and cans) to disappear into the wind and waves.

An international study has revealed that since world war two humans have made enough plastic to coat the entire world in Clingfilm. Over 300 million metric tons of plastics are produced in the world annually and about 50% of this volume is for disposable applications; products that are discarded within a year of their purchase.

The indefinite period of time it takes an average plastic bag to break down in the environment is hundreds and hundreds of years. And because the breakdown rate is so slow, chances of the plastic bag harmlessly going away are very slim; in turn it threatens the natural progression of life.

It has been estimated that one bag has the potential to unintentionally kill one animal per every three months due to unintentional digestion or inhalation. If you consider the number of littered plastic bags ranges from 1.5 million to 3 million depending on location, this equals a lot of ecosystem sustaining lives lost.

Basically, a balanced eco-system is needed for all life to progress, that includes humans. With an increase in plastic bag use throughout the world, the eventual effects could be literally devastating even to the human population.

Next time you go shopping, do not forget to carry a cloth bag or a bilum. Also, try to avoid bringing plastic bags at home and purchasing items with too much of packaging.

This way you can help in contributing towards the environment in the form of reducing plastic pollution.

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