Literature Review On The Danger Of Plastic Bags
Type of paper: Literature Review
Topic: Plastic, Plastic Bags, World, Life, Health, Water, Human, Environment
Plastic usage and its consequences are a menace for the environment. In this paper we will discuss the effects of plastic usage, the consequences and repercussions the environment has to face because of this deadly product, what the government of different countries are doing to tackle the problem and how we on our personal level can contribute towards solving the problem. The paper will bring awareness among the people about the harmful impacts of plastic and the efforts that are being done to reduce the usage.
Plastic bags are dangerous for the environment and health of the people. Since times unknown plastic bags are used by the human beings as one of the major utility items. We may not realize, but it indeed is a part of our everyday life. From the very morning till the bed time again we are using plastic in almost everything that we do. It is something we can’t imagine our lives without. It is capable of causing a whole array of harm to the natural environment, including human beings.
Different countries are taking different steps, setting different goals and finding out different sets of alternatives to the usage of plastic bags. Italy, Burma and Ireland have started imposing taxes on the usage of plastic bags in the year 2008 with the hope that doing so will discourage the use of these bags. The tax in Ireland was imposed in 2002, 15 cents tax had to be paid by the customers (Cohen, 2008). In Bangladesh they are completely banned since 2002, the reason behind that strict action and decision was that the country was unfortunate enough to incur the losses from two floods which was a result of clogging of drains with the plastic bags (Spivey, 2003). In the very neighboring country equal enthusiasm is being shown for banning the usage. Mahatma Gandhi, who is considered a national figure in India, is paid regards by banning the usage of plastic bags in Gujarat, the birth state of Gandhi in India. In another Indian state namely, Himachal Pradesh, the steps are stricter than anywhere else. If caught possessing plastic bags there, the person may be sent behind the bars for a period of seven years and a very heavy fine is also liable to be imposed. The ban on these bags by the U.S was not that prominent, however efforts were going on to reduce the use. Very recently, Chicago has become the latest city in the U.S who has put a ban on the plastic bags in the shopping markets.
The harmful effects of the plastic bags are many. To start from, let’s take the effect on the health of the human beings. In a research conducted by the public health expert R. U Halden, he found out that the effect of plastic use for packaging of medicines is deadly. The presence of Bisphenol A and di-phthalate are responsible for damaging the endocrine system of the human beings (Halden, 2010). Claire Wilton, senior waste campaigner for Friends of the Earth in London says that using plastic bags is a sheer wastage of resources as because after being used once, their ultimate fate is to be thrown away. Samantha Fanshawe, the UK Marine Conservation Society's director of conservation claims that the pollution that is caused by the plastic bags is way more than we can imagine or estimate, as the plastic bags are mobile in nature and thus are capable of being moved here and there, thereof spreading the pollution to a wider area (Williams, 2004). Global warming, which is another major concern for the scientists worldwide is also a result of plastic bags. Each kilogram of plastic bags on burning emits approximately 6 kilograms of carbon dioxide. This figure is sufficient for imagining the level of devastation the plastic bags are causing for the Earth. The rapid increase in the core temperature of the Earth is an indication of the fact. Different parts of the world are facing rise in the temperature. The worst affected are surely the Polar Regions, the polar ice caps are melting at a fast rate thus leading to an increase in the sea level and hence increasing the risk of flood manifolds. Next is the impact on the marine life. The sea birds were dying at a greater rate. They were consuming the plastic bags by mistake; they used to get confused between the small animals they eat normally and the plastics (Conner and O’dell, 1988). This used to harm their digestive system by causing ulcer and blocking the gut. At the same time, the harmful chemicals present in the plastic bags were toxic to them, leading to poising and hence fatal outcomes. Not just visually dirty, the plastic bag if lying in contact with the soil, reduce its fertility, harms its texture and deprives all its properties. Plastic bags mostly are non biodegradable, thus looting out the natural properties out of the soil. Similar effects are seen in case of oceans and seas ( Rujnic Sokele and Baric, 2015). Studies have shown that a large number of plastic bags are seen floating on and around the water bodies. The water bodies are filled with the plastic bags which lead to choking of the sea animals at times and therefore causing their death. In a survey results were obtained which showed that around 56 percent of the litter found on the beaches consists of plastic bags, this high is the rate of plastic waste near the water bodies and hence the impact is also directly proportionate, making the marine lives more prone to mortality.
Hence we may say that although they are required by us in our daily lives, but the harm that they cause are outweighing the benefits they provide. Thus the whole concept of their utility becomes futile. The plastic bags are risking the human lives, marine animals, soil fertility, plants and even the temperature. The loss is huge in terms of lives and resources. The amount of resources that are being wasted for production of plastic bags and their simultaneous incineration is way more than the benefits we get. The world is taking steps in order to reduce the dependency of the people on them. Remarkable success has been achieved, but a lot more is yet to happen. Many countries have already successfully banned the usage; many are on their way of doing the same. The approaches are different, but the basic motive remains the same. Levying taxes, putting a price tag over the plastic bags or banning them in totality are some of the steps the countries are taking worldwide. Alternatives are being found, more and more usage of paper and cloth bags are being promoted. People are made aware about the harmful effects of the plastic bags; initiatives are started right from the school level. Children are taught in the school how decreasing the usage of the plastic bags is beneficial to the environment and the human beings. Different governmental organizations and other nongovernmental organizations are joining hands together to make the Earth a plastic free place to live in. We as responsible citizens should contribute to these projects. We should do our bit in the favor of these projects. If every individual on the Earth gives their contribution in this field then very soon a plastic free world will become a reality.
Cohen, R. (2008). The Paper vs Plastic Bags (1st ed.). Retrieved from http://www.csg.org/knowledgecenter/docs/sn0802PapervsPlastic.pdf
Conner, D., & O'dell, R. (1988). The Tightening Net of Marine Plastics Pollution. Environment: Science And Policy For Sustainable Development, 30(1), 16-36. doi:10.1080/00139157.1988.9930865
Halden, R. (2010). Plastics and Health Risks. Annu. Rev. Public. Health., 31(1), 179-194. doi:10.1146/annurev.publhealth.012809.103714
Rujnic Sokele, M., & Baric, G. (2015). Lifecycle of Polyethylene Bag (1st ed., pp. 41-48). Retrieved from http://annals.fih.upt.ro/pdf-full/2014/ANNALS-2014-1-04.pdf
Spivey, A. (2003). Environmental Health Perspectives (1st ed., p. 4). EBSCO Publishing.
Williams, C. (2004). Battle of the bag. Newscientist, (2464). Retrieved from http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg18324644.800-battle-of-the-bag.html