Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Can we live without plastic?

The answer is not a 'yes' or a 'no'. It's either plastic or life. The choice is ours.
Throughout it's 'life'cycle, plastic is detrimental to life in all its forms.
For starters, plastic is made by burning oil, a process that emits huge quantities of greenhouse gases and contributes to global warming and climate change. Considering the overwhelming output of the worldwide plastic industry, plastic can be held accountable for a good part of the environmental disasters that surround us.
If that doesn't hurt, this one will- the more oil we burn to make plastic, the higher oil prices climb (and the prices of all commodities with it). You pay the price hike. While thousands of Arab families pay with their lives when the white man flaunting the white eagle emblem swoops down on their oil wells, and plunders their homes in the name of fighting terrorism.
Seems far fetched that a simple plastic bag is linked to all this? Well, if you consider the quantities of oil consumed to make plastic, you'd think before taking that 'free' bag.

The making of plastic bags requires five of the six most hazardous chemicals (propylene, phenol, ethylene, polystyrene and benzene). And guess where these chemicals go once we 'use and throw' the plastic bags?

Option 1. They end up in the soil, preventing rainwater from percolating through the soil and recharging the groundwater table. They stay there until they decompose, ie up to 1000 years, all along leaching the toxic chemicals and poisoning the soil.

Option 2. They end up in our oceans, rivers, lakes, and other water bodies and contaminate the sources of our drinking water. Agreed that the water is 'treated and purified' but it's still contaminated.

Option 3. They up being burned, to get them out of sight (and out of mind) but the cancer-causing gases that are released, ironically enough, end up in our own lungs.

Option 4. They end up in the gut of animals, who mistake the bags for food, ingest them, and die. Slowly. Painfully. Surely. Once the dead animal decays, the bags are set free to continue the killing cycle. Considering a plastic bag doesn't degrade for 1000 years, one can only imagine the death toll wrecked by billions of plastic bags discarded everyday.

Anyway you look at it, it only stands to reason that we cannot live with plastics, but only without it.

Having read this far, if you still accept plastic bags next time you go shopping, in the name of 'convenience', it'll only prove one thing- a clear lack of conscience.

Please carry a cloth bag. Live and let live.

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