Why Production of Plastic Bags Should Banned In the 21st century, people have become their own killers. From countryside to the cities, the use of plastic materials has greatly increased. In the grocery stores, tons of products are packaged using plastic materials. About 30 years ago, in countries like Uganda, there were no plastic bags used for packaging and carrying items. Items in the shops were packed in biodegradable paper bags. In the markets, people used local materials like banana leaves and fibers, and sorghum leaves for carrying and packaging items.
The shoppers carried with them baskets made of bamboo trees to the market to shop items in. When these materials got worn out or torn, the owners would throw them in the gardens to decompose and provide manure for the health growth of crops. There used to be no pollution caused by these local materials. In two or three week’s time, they would decompose completely. These local packaging materials were environmentally friendly. However, in the late 1970s, the usage of local materials started to disappear with the introduction of plastic bags/materials in the market.
Unfortunately, people started using plastic materials without considering its externalities on the people, animals, plants, atmosphere, water and environment in general. People started to replace local carrying and packaging materials with the products from these poisonous materials. The increasing usage of plastic bags/materials emerged as a result of its increasing demand and production at the global level. People use plastic materials or products for different reasons such as packaging items, shopping bags, storing, reducing food spoilage rate, low cost, lightweight, clear package viewing, plastic film used in film industry and ducting.
Furthermore, the production of plastic materials created jobs for the unemployed, revenue for the government and private firms. However, for whatever the reason, the use and production of plastic products has become a human killer, an evil to the environment and all forms of life, and it should be banned. Some of the main reasons why plastic materials should not be used and produced have to do with the safety of animals and children, threats to environmental sustainability and health problems. The first reason why people should not use plastic products has to do with the safety of animals and infant children.
For example, both domestic and wild animals and including birds are beneficial to people and environment. Domestic animals provide human beings with different benefits such as source of income, labor, transport, organic manure, food, clothing and protection. The wild animals on the other hand are the major source of income for the government. For example, Wrangell –St. Elias National Park in Alaska has wild animals such as moose, black bears, grizzly, swans, foxes and porcupine, that attracts tourists and brings in large amount revenue to the United States through tourism.
The animals graze around for what to eat. Unfortunately, the plastic bags/materials people use end up as rubbish littering places. Once these animals come across these plastic materials, they eat them. The end is their death. The death of these animals is the cost of our action. As referred to in The Great Plastic Bag Plague: For every bag, there’s a cost. Environment California reports that, plastic bags, and other plastic refuse that end up in the ocean, kill up to one million sea creatures every year, such as birds, whales, seals, sea turtles, and others.
And the number of marine mammals that die each year because of eating or being entanglement in plastic is estimated at 100,000 in the North Pacific Ocean alone (Lohan, par. 6). Plastic materials do not digest in their stomach, and it stops the normal functioning of the alimentary system. I still remember how horrible the suffering was for my father’s cows as they died after eating plastic bags in Uganda. After eating this poisonous material, the cow’s stomachs would begin to swell, the poor animal would stop eating and drinking.
White watery discharge starts coming from their mouths, they fall down and die. I helplessly watched about three cows and five goats of my father’s dying after eating plastic bags. Besides killing animals, plastic bags can kill infant children. For the children, they like playing. Anything they find interesting, they start playing with it without having any consideration of their dangers. When they wrap plastic materials on their heads in the course of playing, it can choke or suffocate them to death.
These children don’t know what to do when something is preventing them from breathing or something is choking them. Unfortunately, these plastic materials are in the access of children in households and public playgrounds. Year in and year out, cases of the death of children from plastic materials are reported. For example, in the United States, the Consumer Protect Safety Commission (CPSC) reported in their website that they receive an average of about 25 reports each year of death of children due to suffocation from plastic bags.
According to CPSC, the cases where plastic bags suffocated children have been reported include the following:- •Child pulled plastic dry-cleaning bag over face while lying on adult bed. ?Plastic garbage bag (filled with clothes) fell over victim’s face and mouth while victim was on adult bed. •Child crawled into plastic garbage bag. •Child rolled off mattress onto plastic bag filled with clothes. •Child slept on mattress covered by plastic bag (Children Still Suffocating…, par. 4). The CPSC also showed these cases pictorially in their websites and gave warning on the use of plastic bags/materials.
However, people have not heeded to their warning. Parents and adults have continued using plastic materials which has sustained the cases of babies and children dying from plastic bags each year as being reported on the CPSC website. People who manufacture and promote the use of plastic products should be blamed for the death of babies, children and animals. They are aware of the dangers of plastic bags, but they continue to produce it for economic and political benefits. Economically, plastic bags provide a source of revenue for the country and the production company.
As Mario Flores, a graduating Student, majoring in Materials Science and Engineering in at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, in his article “Structural Causes and Corrective Policy,” he writes, “plastic production processes has led to the development of thousands of products, which have benefited modern society through the direct and indirect creation of millions of jobs and the creation of markets with important contributions to the world’s economic output”(Plastic Materials and Environmental Externalities, par. ). People are employed directly to work in the plastic manufacturing industries, plastic recycling plants and sellers of the plastic products. By providing employment to people, people’s income and expenditures has increased. Banning production and use of plastic materials would mean millions of people who have been employed in this sector would become unemployed. This in turn would have effect on their income and expenditures.
Politically, the politicians fear that if they ban the manufacture and use of plastic bags, many people who are employed in this sector, directly or indirectly, would become unemployed and not vote for them when they want to contest for the political position. Hence, they risk losing their political position. However, these benefits should not undermine the protection of babies, children and animals.
With the continuous death of babies, children and animals featuring in CPSC reports every year, the legislature should not wait until more infants die from plastic materials; they should stand up and ban the manufacture and use of the plastic materials. For this reason, tough decision should be taken to save the life of babies, children and animals. The second reason why people should not use plastic products is that it threatens the sustainability of environment. The sustainable environment is to provide the best outcomes for the human and natural environments now and into the indefinite future.
However, this attempt has been threatened by the production and use of plastic materials. For example, plastic products are made from petroleum, and petroleum is non-renewable resource. The exploitation of petroleum in the United States of America for making plastic bags is alarming. In her article “A global Problem,” Lohan writes, “[i]n the United States alone, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil is used annually to make plastic bags that Americans consume” (Lohan, par. 10). This consumption of oil is creating fear among the Americans that, in the future there could be shortage of oil to operate other machines.
In China before the ban of plastic bags, a huge number of barrels of oil was used for manufacturing plastic bags. For example, it was reported in a New Internationalist article, a non-profit company with its members from religious and Oxfam organizations who fight poverty and injustice around the world, and with highly recognized academicians, “It takes about 11 barrels of oil to make one ton of plastic bags. Before the ban, China used more plastic bags than any other country and wasted 37 million barrels of oil on them every year” (Plastics is forever, par. 5).
This means that if people use plastic products, it would increase the exploitation of petroleum that can lead to exhaustion of petroleum resource and shortage of petroleum to make products like gasoline to run cars and generators, heat houses and pump water. Furthermore, increase in the demand for plastic materials would lead to more factories to make plastic products. In one way or another, these products end somewhere “Everything Must Go Somewhere” (Commoner, par. 3). Hence, this would increase the amount of waste product that pollutes the environment. For example, plastic materials litter lawns, roads, water odies, beaches and atmosphere. The plastic materials makes environment unsuitable for habitation. As Alan Weisman said in his article, “Plastic bags clog everything from sewer drains to the gullets of sea turtles who mistake them for jellyfish”(Weisman 116). In addition, plastic products are not biodegradable; therefore, in one way or another, they end up somewhere. Dumping the plastic wastes on the ground, in landfills or water affects chemical cycle in the soil to provide nutrient to other forms of life. For example, plants need soil nutrients to manufacture their food.
The plants’ need for sunlight, soil nutrients and carbon dioxide should not be compromised for the plants to achieve the process of their food production. If the soil is filled with plastic materials, it blocks the plant roots from reaching the soil to absorb the soil nutrients required for their food manufacture, hence, unable to survive. Burning plastic materials pollutes in open air, is not only dangerous for health reasons, but also the thick black cloudy smoke it produces when burning creates poor visibility and has nasty smell. Some of the open burning of plastic waste has been intentionally and accidentally done.
In some developing countries, there are no incinerators to burn plastic waste in contained environment; thus, they collect all kinds of waste in one place and set ablaze releasing thick smelly smoke in the air. Also, other products such as automobile, households, and factories that have plastic constituents, have been known of emitting nasty smoke when accidentally catches fire. However, for whatever purpose people use the plastic products, the use of plastic materials lead to shortage of petroleum to provide energy, the plastic wastes affect chemical cycle in the soil and burning plastic materials pollutes the environment.
For this reason, usage and production of plastic products should be banned. Thirdly, the most critical reason why plastic products should be banned is to do with health. People cherish their health, and no one actually wants to fall sick and go through the pain of sickness. According to a general practitioner in Sydney’s King Cross, Dr. Mansberg, she reported how different studies have shown that how plastic Bisphosphenol A (BPA), content in plastic products are known of putting human health in jeopardy when they come into contact with it.
In her website, Mansberg reported that: Early studies had only found that BPA exposure increases the rate of miscarriage. Until a 2008 study published in the high brow Journal of the American Medical Association reported that people with the highest levels of BPA had three times the rate of cardiovascular disease and 2. 5 times the rates of diabetes compared with those with the lowest amounts. And BPA exposure linked to abnormal liver function test, too (Purchase poisonous plastic at your peril…, par. 6).
Finally, besides causing cardiovascular disease and liver abnormality, plastic materials contain Hydrogen Cyanide, a cancer causing substance. The products that are known to have content of plastic materials include plastic labels with numbers 1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, used for bottling soft drinks, water, carpeting, food jars, syrups, yoghurt, toys, adhesives, juice, ketchup, CD packages, poultry trays, et cetera. If burnt in open air, it puts people at risk of getting cancer. Some people may say that plastic bags are light and cheap, but the diseases it causes should be the main reason why they should overlook the advantages of poly bags.
Also, colorful plastic bags for keeping food items, and the children’s toys and other game equipments containing lead and cadmium which is health hazardous. Although some of the plastic bags are recyclable, they are not recycled by the users. Therefore, they don’t get recycled and they end up polluting the environment. Even though the users recycle them, the recycling process creates more pollution. As a medical doctor, her advice to people is “Don’t recycle! In fact don’t even use them at all” (Purchase poisonous plastic…, par. 1). Unfortunately, people don’t take such advice seriously.
For example, ten years ago, I lived in Kansanga, a city suburb of Kampala, Uganda. One day, the place experienced catastrophic flood due to littering in the suburbs with the plastic bags. People were advised not to throw away plastic bags in uncontrolled areas, but others still paid deaf ears. They continued to throw plastic bags anywhere. One day in the morning, I saw my neighbor throwing plastic bag near my yard; when I told him to collect it, he refused and we started quarrelling. Later, the guy apologized for throwing the plastic bag near my yard. He said he does not have a toilet, so he uses plastic bags for a toilet and threw it away.
I felt so bad that I had reacted badly to the guy before knowing his shelter situation. Concerning the ban of plastic materials, Mansberg further says that, in most countries the legislatures are reluctant to ban plastic materials. However, she says banning plastic materials would not be an easy task. In her article, Mansberg wrote: “The plastics industry is not about to let this one go without a fight, though. BPA ranks among the highest-volume chemicals manufactured worldwide, with a total one year production in 2003 alone of about 13 billion kilograms and annual increase in demand of 6 to 10 percent annually.
Try regulating that without having a dramatic economic impact” (Purchase poisonous plastic…, par. 8). This is a huge volume of chemical, equivalent to 13 million tones of snow melting salt. It means millions of tons of BPA are produced annually to endanger the health of humans and all other forms of life. Although plastic materials have some benefits like CD packaging, poultry trays, food jars and adhesives, they are dangerous to human health. They contain BPA that causes cancer, liver malfunction, and miscarriage. These are some of the reasons why it should be banned. People have various reasons to use plastic materials.
However, the truth of the matter is that people need to think and consult about the consequences of using plastic products to help them reach a decision which is constructive to their lives and environment. The bottom line is that whatever decision you may come up with, plastic products are not safe for animals and children; it threatens the environmental sustainability and is health hazardous. Therefore, it should be banned. Talk to your congressman and senator to make sure that this becomes the talk of the house so that plastic materials are banned to protect life and environment.