Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade

ISLAMABAD: Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade, breaking down into smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways, and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest them. Nearly 90% of the debris in our oceans is plastic, which causes over 100,000 sea turtles and other marine animal deaths every year.These views were expressed by the environmental activists on Thursday during an awareness raising stint on the eve of the World Environment Day (WED), which was organised by a consortium of local NGOs. The organisers distributed 500 environment-friendly shopping bags (produced from degradable material) among the citizens in the commercial district of the capital, Blue Area. Theme of this year’s WED is “Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level”. Hussain Jarwar, a resident, said on the occasion that there is a need to raise awareness among the masses at massive level and imposition of ban by the government with heavy penalties on the manufacturing of plastic bags, their distribution, and supplies with aggressive and long-term policies.Despite hot weather in the capital, the citizens took keen interest in the awareness raising stint and appreciated the efforts of the organisers. “I very fondly remember that in my youth we used to use bags made of cloth when going to market for buying grocery,” said Zuhra Khan, a housewife. “After this reminder, now I would start reviving that environment-friendly tradition,” she vowed. Fiza Qureshi, another resident said that plastic bag litter has become such an environmental nuisance and eyesore that Ireland, Taiwan, South Africa, Australia, and Bangladesh have heavily taxed the totes or banned their use outright. Several other regions, including England and some US cities, are considering similar actions. “We need to have similar legislation here in Pakistan,” she demanded the federal and provincial legislatures. Ashok Lilani, who was also present on the occasion, said that a plastic bag can take between 400 to 1,000 years to break down in the environment. He hoped that the people would begin to realise that paper and plastic bags both come at great cost to the environment, and instead of scratching their head when asked which type they prefer, they would pull a tightly packed reusable bag from their pocket. “We want to make it cool to carry reusable shopping bags,” he concluded.

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