Plastic pollution has become one of the most disastrous environmental issues across the world. Since the introduction of plastic bags people have become addicted to its use. Plastic bag usage is increasing due to mass production and low recycling rate and eventually putting the environment in jeopardy. Bangladesh is no exception in this regard. According to statistics by Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC), 410 million poly-bags are used alone in Dhaka city per month and 85-90% of the total used poly-bags are dumped in drains, sewage pipes and open places. It is mentionable that plastic bags are the most common type of litter because plastic bags are cheap to buy and durable enough to carry goods.
Generally, plastic bags are made from a ubiquitous polymer substance known as polyethylene. After extracting ethylene from natural gases it is treated to produce polyethylene which can be used to produce plastic bags. Plastic bag is not biodegradable because it contains polymers and chemical toxins like lead, cadmium, mercury and carcinogens which allows the bag to stay in shape over a long period. Consequently, it can easily cause serious damage to the eco-system. Experts say if the usage of plastic bags goes on unabated, then by 2050 there will be more plastics substances in the water than fish which will eventually create catastrophe in the natural system. Fortunately, technological advancement has made it possible to invent many alternatives to replace plastic bags. Have a look at those eco-friendly alternatives:
Sonali bag (The Golden Bag) is one of the significant inventions in Bangladesh to replace poly-bags because this is a bio-plastic bag made of jute. The extracted golden plant fiber from the jute is used to produce low-cost biodegradable cellulose sheets to manufacture plastic-like bag. Sonali bag is stronger than the regular plastic bags and most importantly this bag is decomposable. According to BJMC, Sonali bag is totally environment-friendly. This jute polymer bag can remain stable in water for up to five hours. Besides, it also decomposes in soil within five to six months whereas polythene takes several hundred years. The product has great potential to take over the market of polythene and polypropylene bags. So, this product needs full patronization from the government to replace polythene bags completely and make it available in the market.
Paper bagPaper bag is one of the most popular alternatives to the plastic bag. Paper bag offers many eco-friendly benefits. For instance, it can be taken care of and continually reused easily. It is mentionable that paper bag is both recyclable and biodegradable. The materials used to make paper bag are easy to get decomposed by the bacteria and other microorganisms. Thus, paper bag takes less time to disintegrate into simpler forms. In fact, it actually requires less energy to produce paper bags to be recycled than it does for plastic. Paper bags are also biodegradable and pose less of a threat to the environment and wildlife.
Cotton bags are way more beneficial for the environment due to their reusability and biodegradability. What’s even better is that these bags are natural renewable sources. Although the cotton farming is costly due to the huge water requirement, pesticides, and chemical fertilizer, but it makes up a good alternative to plastic bag. Unlike plastic bag cotton bag will neither tear nor break and the handle of the bag will never cut into your hand or stretch out with the weight of what is inside it. Besides, cotton bags are made of fabric, so you can easily wash the bag with detergent and reuse it in your next shopping. After you finish your shopping, you can easily fold it and carry everywhere.
Canvas bags are sturdier compared to cotton bags because these are intensely sewn during their manufacturing stage. Canvas features an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, meaning that they are durable but lightweight. This bag can be used hundreds of times because it is washable and biodegradable. So, you can even cut them up and add them to your compost. Canvas bag is manufactured using plain weave. This particular knitting technique produces a fabric that is actually more durable and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Besides, the knitted cotton makes it notoriously strong and provides enough strength to lift heavy stuff. In comparison to the conventional plastic bag, canvas bags are more cost effective and easily decomposable. This bag is also a thicker and stronger alternative to the plastic bags.
Mesh bag is another alternative to the plastic bag. This bag is flexible, lightweight and convenient to carry heavy stuffs. You don’t have to worry about snapped straps because the elasticity of the bag can stretch according to your shopping. Like other fabric-based shopping bags, they can be recycled once their useful life is over.
In short, considering the harmful impacts of plastic bags we need to switch to biodegradable plastic. Biodegradable plastic is extremely significant and proves to be of great importance when it comes to reducing waste and helping the environment. One of the main advantages of using biodegradable plastic is that it can reduce carbon emissions during the manufacturing process. Furthermore, since the materials used to create biodegradable plastics are plant-based, minimal carbon is emitted during the composting process. So in order to make the world a livable place for the future generation, use of bio-plastic bags should be encouraged.