To protect the environment, we must get out of the plastic life
You can find plastic bags at any grocery store. After buying vegetables in the van, almost everybody filled the plastic bag, returned home, and threw the bag in the bin. Rows of bananas are hung from plastic twine in roadside shops.
Or the child returned from school to eat the chips, put something else in the wrapper, and put it in the fridge. The whole life in a city or village is now plastic.
Buy something, eat something, throw something away – if there is no plastic in everything, it does not work! But we don’t even notice others once, what damage we are causing every day.
What the research says
In Bangladesh, plastic consumption in cities outside Dhaka increased from 3 kg per person in 2005 to 9 kg per person in 2020, according to a report by the World Bank.
In Dhaka city, it increased from 9 kg to 24 kg. Ten percent of the waste generated in the country throughout the year comes from plastic products. Forty-eight percent is in landfills, and the reused amount is 37 percent. Twelve percent fall into canals and rivers. And 3 percent goes into the drains.
According to the ‘Environmental Performance Index-2022’ information, 2.47 percent of the global total plastic pollution is in Bangladesh. Despite being ahead in pollution, Bangladesh ranks fourth in the countries lagging in pollution prevention.
Most of the plastic used in Bangladesh is disposed of in arable land, various water bodies, and rivers. At the same time, plastic waste is one of the leading causes of 56 river pollution in a recent study by the River and Delta Research Center.
Malicious keys that we are using
Environmentalists say that after use, ‘single-use’ plastic products are deposited directly on the ground and in rivers-channels-canals-seas-oceans. These plastics can create various diseases, even cancer, after Entering our bodies.
The European Commission has listed ten types of ‘single-use’ plastic products. Those are cotton bud sticks, plastic knives, spoons, plates, glasses, food wrappers, liquid drink bottles, plastic bags, and sanitary items.
On March 1, 2023, through a letter sent by the Environment Pollution Control Division-1 of the Ministry, it was ordered to stop using single-use plastic in all government offices and coastal areas, including the District Commissioner’s Office, to prevent environmental pollution in the country. But it was not possible to implement it at all.
Khalilur Rahman, assistant program officer of the Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO), said, ‘If we want to stop the use of plastic, we have to bring alternatives.
First, we should use cloth bags instead of plastic or tissue bags. People should be widely aware. The water of green coconut should drink without using a straw. The daily use of plastic harms their lives – if people understand this, they will find alternatives.’
The problem with plastic
Studies have shown that plastics contain certain chemicals, which can leach out of the plastic and enter our food and drinks.
These chemicals, such as phthalates and bisphenols, have been linked to various health problems, such as obesity, neuro-developmental issues, or reduced ability to conceive.
As for the damage, Assistant Plastic Khalilur Rahman of ESDO said, ‘This plastic is mixed with water; it does not become inactive.
From the fruit we eat to the fish, plastic is the practice in the food chain. We are used to plasticizing or softening the top layer. One hundred seventy-five types of Major chemicals are found in plastic bags.
What will have to be done?
If polythene bags and plastic are banned, what will be the alternative, environmentalists say? They say everybody should use eco-friendly bags and furniture.
Recently another polythene bag has been developed, which will dissolve in water. The government should allocate adequate funds for research and marketing in these matters.
Sharif Jamil, general secretary of Bangladesh Environment Movement (BAPA) said, “Our crisis in law enforcement has been going on for a long time.”
Planning should be done in which the people feel directly involved in implementing it. Prioritizing public participation makes such work easier. It is the need of the hour for strict legal enforcement of the source, production, marketing, and consumption of polythene.
Development plans are not environmentally sensitive – Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), said, “While undertaking various projects, we think that we will develop first and protect the environment later.”
“We lack a system in place to monitor the market. Wherever polyethylene is sold, it is being produced somewhere. Market control is not impossible if strong steps are in place at the beginning,” She added.