Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Impact of Plastics Bags

Picture from CNBCtv
Days ago, I saw an older woman making a carpet with plastic bags at Naomi House Retirement Apartments.  It was wonderful because the carpet had good colors and the woman was very happy doing that. I had never seen it before, so I asked her,  “Are you making the carpet of plastic bags?” And she said, “Yes. The plastic bags are polluting the world and this is my way to transform them into something useful and collaborate with the care for God's creation. The carpets will be a gift to poor families.” Her way to share her knowledge struck me to reflect on what I know about plastic bags. Well, although the plastic bags are lightweight, they would be preserved for a long time in the environment. In fact, plastic bags affect our planet dangerously because they increase pollution and kill lives. 

Plastic bags are harming soil and oceans because they are made from polyethylene (petroleum). That means that the manufacturing process of plastic bags is prejudicial to the environment.  And the plastic bags remain toxic to the world after people throw them away. Rather than decomposing, plastic disintegrates into fine pieces: microplastics. These directly affect agriculture and food because plastic bags make the soil less fertile.  For example, some scientists explain that when plastic bags are discarded, many of them end up in landfills, where they may take up to 1,000 years to decompose, filtering their toxic substances into the soil. In addition, plastic bags travel by sea and finally accumulate in a patch. A patch is like an island of trash. From current information about plastic bags, I found that the microplastic accumulation in the ocean grows more and more every day. This waste is known as  “garbage patches” is contributing to global pollution on a major scale. Actually, there are five garbage patches located across the globe. One of the most famous patches is the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” It is located between Hawaii and California in the Pacific Ocean.

As I mentioned, the microplastics are very difficult to remove and once ingested, cannot be digested, which can lead to a painful death. For instance, in the soil, the birds often mistake plastic bags for food, filling their stomachs with toxic debris. The activists showed that the number of seabirds found dead as a result of plastic is estimated at 1 million a year. Unfortunately, if we talk about our oceans, the scene is not different. For example, recent studies estimate that fish off the West Coast ingest over 12,000 tons of plastic a year. When the fish eat the plastic bags, they also transfer it to bigger fish and marine mammals by the food chain. All in all, the plastic bags are killing animals and plants slowly. 

In conclusion, the plastic bags start out as fossil fuels and end up as deadly waste in the ground and the sea. Although the plastic pollution in soil and ocean caused risk for the animals, I also believe the plastic bags impact all human life. Microplastic is everywhere, so I ask myself and I invite you to ask yourself, what should we do to reduce the use of plastic bags? How are we going to stop pollution and transform our waste of plastic bags into something beautiful for others? The wise woman that I met, taught me with her action. There is nothing in this life that can limit our creativity if we really want to do something right and good. Now, therefore, it is our time to stop single-use plastic bags. Our planet can not tolerate more!

Here a good video to continue our reflections about plastic bags.

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