When we travel, go shopping or visit places, there is always something which is with us constantly and in close proximity. If you are wondering what is the something I am pointing at, let me not keep you waiting. I am referring to the numerous plastic bags we carry around all the time.
According to history, plastic bags were introduced as grocery bags around 1970’s. The usage of plastics begun for grocery shopping, has however increased tremendously these days and is something most people can’t do without. Like every other commodity they come in various colours, sizes and shapes. They are attractive and handy.
But that is just one side of the story. What we do not realise is the damage caused due to its usage. Plastic takes thousands of years to decompose in the soil, during the course of which it breaks down and emits toxic substances in the soil and water. It has also been observed that it is responsible for the deaths of marine life. Plastic bags strewn around are also eaten up by cows, cats and dogs in our country.
It is the responsibility of the government to ban the usage of plastics. But there are certain morals that we need to inculcate ourselves as human beings. The reason to reduce the use of plastic bags should not be a ban which is imposed by the government, but rather the thought of protecting the environment.
We may argue that we do not use a lot of plastic bags and that it is not our fault that stores provide them with our supplies. When we go to the supermarket, with various grocery items, we also take home lot of plastic. Instead, what everybody could do is get our own bags while going to the market. Also several times we purchase one or two things that do not require a plastic bag to carry them and in such instances we can use our handbags to keep them.
On my visit to Ooty, one of the beautiful things about the place I observed was the usage of cotton bags. This city is amazingly stunning with its rich flora and fauna and it is an amazing sight to see. There is very little pollution and the air is pleasant to breathe. The people of this place never use plastic bags. They have come up with alternatives. As I went shopping to many shops, I received only paper and cloth bags.
There are several alternatives for the use of plastic bags. Paper bags for instance. They are very compatible for carrying clothes and books. Jute bags and cotton bags are also a very good option. They are very strong and can hold heavier items. They come in various colours and beautiful styles. They are trendy and convenient to carry around. So why don’t we make use of them?
Every plastic that we use is a contribution towards environment pollution. We do not use plastic more than a few times and we discard them soon. Most of the plastics are not recycled. They are simply dumped, contaminating the environment.
Certain companies have however taken a step to say no to plastic. When you shop at places like Fab India, Lee, Levis, VanHeusen and Sepia you receive paper bags. It is inspiring to see people take initiative to reduce the plastic menace.
It may not be possible to completely eliminate the usage of plastic bags as we have become accustomed to using them. But, as a responsible human being, each of us can reduce the amount of plastic that we use. Let us make use of jute bags, cotton bags and paper bags to serve our purposes as they can be used a number of times. Let us also avoid accepting plastic at stores and keep a bag ready with us whenever we plan to shop. This will surely make the environment a much greener place and save a lot of lives especially those that live in the sea. Let the something we carry about when we travel, shop or visit places be the pride of being a responsible human being.
More from Petula Ann Dias: