The usage of plastic bags has been started, throughout the world, back in 1982. This new habit quickly accepted by the people as an indicator of the civilisation and implemented into their life. In Australia, by the end of 2008 plastic bags were removed from supermarkets. In China, as of June 2008 the production of very thin plastic bags and its usage in supermarkets have been banned. Ireland introduced a taxation system for the usage of the plastic bags in March 2002, and the usage rate dropped to 95 %, before the annual consumption was 1.2 billion plastic bags. The use of plastic bags was also banned in the capital city of Bangladesh, Dhaka, as the water flow cut off during the flooding and caused serious material damage. In South Africa, Germany and Canada, plastic bags are chargeable. In England, 50 shops switch to the fabric bags and the demand for plastic bags were reduced by 70% per year.
What happens to those plastic bags? Where is their final destination? When we dump them into the bin, are they disappearing? These are the questions that we need to ask ourselves…
“The Majestic Plastic Bag” is 4 minutes’ short movie, directed by Jeremy Konner. A civil society organisation in USA called Heal the Bay started a campaign back in 2010, and after a successful campaign California state became the first state that banned the consumption of disposable plastic bags. This short movie has been produced as a part of this campaign and the movie’s soundtrack.
The film tells the journey of a used plastic bag. I felt like I witnessed the incredible journey of the emperor penguins, or the relentless journey of the salmon fishes towards the current, not the journey of a plastic bag. The bag coming into your life from a supermarket is arriving to the Pacific Ocean at the end, after a long and adventurous journey, where many of the planet’s rubbish met and many of us are not even aware of it.
The plastic bag we all use in everyday life is very common in today’s consumer societies, but we have to take into account its consequences.
Plastic bags do not only create garbage and pollution, they consume our water in the production process, disrupt the flow regimes of lakes and rivers, create serious costs in the storage process, and endanger the existence of endangered species with harm to the natural habitats.
The place we live in is an island and it is an important landmark as accommodation stop for many living things. Two of the eight species of sea turtle known in the world (Caretta Caretta and Chelonia mydas) regularly lay eggs in Mediterranean countries including our country. Monk seals (Monaccus monaccus) are mammals that circulate in the coastal waters of our country and spend time in their coastal walks during their lifetime (rest, nursing, etc.). And these two species of sea turtles and Monk seals are among the endangered species.
Working on our living space, makes us happier. This can answer our questions as nature lovers; ‘what I can do?’, and responds to the ones who is looking for something to change right now. Shopping centres are the most important places where we can start to switch to the fabric bags instead of plastic ones that threaten our nature today.
The file of crimes we have committed to the world is very fluffy. But I believe that the transition to the fabric bags will be a good step in reducing the mistakes we have made in nature. Protecting the environment begins with regulating our waste. Instead of plastic bags, these long-term fabric bags are also creating a new consumer model within the new world approach. It’s time to do something for the nature. Being acquainted with the fabric bags and removing the plastic bags from our lives is necessary to be environmentally conscious and to be happy people who love nature.
So what shall be done?
The headline of Mercan Y. Uluengin’s article says what we should do: “We use less, reuse, recycle!”
- The cleanest solution is not to use plastic bags. Do not use it. Then you do not have to interrogate. You will be comfortable inside.
- You can take the business a step further and persuade others to not use the plastic bag.
- Reduce the use of plastic bags. If you need to buy plastic bags in shopping, do not ask for much; If possible, carry the bags we bought in previous purchases and use the same bags over and over again.
- What is the alternative? Paper bag or fabric bag. If paper bags are thought to be consumed for the paper and the paper can be recycled in a limited number of ways, the best solution is fabric bag net or basket. So you can use the same bag over and over again. You can buy it from ready-to-sell fabric bags, or you can create your own bag if it’s more enjoyable.
Sema Karahan, January 2017