How Bad is Plastic?

by Ahmed Wafi

Things are not looking good...

The ocean is amongst the scariest places known to man. To date, we have only explored approximately five per cent of the ocean. But last April, scientists managed to dive down to the floor of the Mariana Trench (that measures 35,849 feet underwater) and guess what they found! Plastic.

In a report by National Geographic, Dallas-based businessman Victor Vescovo began his dive to the bottom of the ocean in April, covering five of the deepest parts of the ocean. While there, he not only observed some mysterious marine creatures but also candy wrappers and shopping bags floating around.

The ocean floor isn’t the only place where we have found plastic waste. In 2014, The Economist estimated about 50 tonnes of rubbish to be scattered around Mount Everest. Humans have literally polluted the earth from top to bottom.

When plastic bags hit supermarkets around the world in the 70s, it came with the intention of having cheaper and more durable alternatives for paper bags. The thing is pollution of oceans and rivers aren’t directly caused by the manufacturing and usage of plastic bags but rather the poor and irresponsible management of plastic waste.

“So why is this bad?” you might ask. Well, plastic bags take up to 10 to 20 years to decompose while a single plastic bottle requires 450 years to decompose. Can you imagine the pile high plastic that will surround us, even after we’re gone?

Thankfully, governments around the world are doing something about fixing the issue to save our planet. Bangladesh was the first country to ban plastic bags as authorities found that it played a crucial role in the clogging of drainage. Other countries began to follow suit.

Here in our own country, Penang was the first to impose a policy banning free plastic bags in supermarkets in 2011 while Selangor implemented a ‘no plastic bag day’ every Saturday in 2010. Then in 2017, the Selangor state government ruled out free plastic bags every day. Kedah also implemented a similar law against giving out plastic bags on weekends beginning April this year.

It’s a slow start but we are on the right path. No plastic bags or straws policies, save the ocean initiatives and also the introduction of more biodegradable plastic bags – these are all steps in the right path to save the earth from ourselves.

Let’s do our part!

Feature photo by Dustan Woodhouse on Unsplash

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