The Use Of Plastic Bags: Hazards And Solutions

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Many day to day compounds that people come across and use can be dangerously threatening to the environment without our knowledge. The improper disposal of hazardous waste can results in releases of toxins, ecosystem imbalance, human health issues and environmental pollution. Something as small as not throwing waste out in the correct place can result in garbage ending up in soil, air, and water when harmful substances make themselves inside of it. Many things that people may consider are the factors that have the most impact of harming the environment.

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The correct disposal of waste plays an important and crucial role in the world’s cleanliness and sustainability with respect to the health of people and resources coming a cost. When ethylene molecules are polymerized to form polyethene, they form long chains of carbon atoms in which each carbon also is bonded to two hydrogen atoms. Polyethene that plastic bags are made of originate from refining oils and natural gas. Plastic bags are made by heating polyethene at very high heat, melting the pellets at which time the molten plastic is pushed into the machine and a die that determines the thickness that the bag will have. Afterwards, the plastic film is pushed into a bubble by the outside air and through a long cooling process. They then cut the roll according to the size of the bag, also cutting in handles as well depending on the manufacturer. Although plastic bags are fairly easy to produce it is almost impossible to get rid off. It can take up to 400 years for a bag to biodegrade. Plastic bags get into the soil and begin to slowly release toxic chemicals. These plastic bags when thrown out by people can get anywhere from wild life in the sea to a landfill where it can take up to 400 years to decompose.

Firstly, plastic bags can have an impact on animals. With many of the earth’s wildlife living in the sea it can cause animals to ingest or get tangled in plastic bags that have been thrown out or littered. Plastic doesn’t break down in the digestive tract causing for pieces of plastic ending up in many of their stomach and organs likely to severely harm or kill the organism.

It is reported that Approximately 100,000 sea turtles and other marine animals die every year because they either mistake the bags for food or get strangled in them. Plastic degrades into smaller pieces it is also eaten by aquatic organisms, small fish and jellyfish. Plastic waste therefore enters the food chain in increasing concentrations as larger fish feed on smaller ones and other animals feed on the fish including human beings. Plastic bags can also have a impact on soil and the growth of plants. As plastic takes millions of years to biodegrade, plastic obstructs the growth of plants and trees as it makes it difficult for the plants to absorb minerals and nutrients. This can eventually lead to resource damage, soil pollution, and loss of natural growth. Humans are also affected through the use of plastic bags through the food chain. As these chemicals are ingested by animals in the ocean, this can be detrimental to humans. As humans ingest contaminated fish and mammals.

There are different types of ways that plastic is dangerous for humans. Different types of plastic can be ingested into our system such as lead, cadmium, and mercury. These dangerous chemicals have also been proven to be found in many fish in the ocean, which is very dangerous for humans.

Citizens of the earth can put a stop to this epidemic by educating themselves about the effects of plastics and how something as little as a plastic bag is threatening to the environment. Educating your friends, family, children, and neighbors about the impact of plastic will help spread awareness of the health and safety issues of plastic, and put a stop to this epidemic. Another way we can stop the use of plastic bags is through using reusable shopping bags instead of plastic ones. These can be bought in different sizes for various uses such as heavy cans and other bulky items. People can also try to reuse plastic shopping bags at home for as long as you can.

Lastly, as a country we can stand up and petition for plastic shopping bags to banned and by taking measures to decrease the amount purchased and used. While some governments are taking steps to reign in plastic bags or ban them outright, other countries are seriously lagging behind. In 2008, China started to ban stores from offering free plastic bags; previously, China had been using 3 billion plastic bags a day. One of the most substantial efforts has taken place in Ireland, where a tax has been issued on each plastic bag. Paying the equivalent of 20 cents tax per plastic bag used in a store has led to a 95 percent decrease in usage. 

01 February 2021

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