5 Extremely Harmful effects of using plastic bags that you haven’t been told

Let’s admit it, the streets of Accra is littered with plastic waste especially black polythene bags. How as a country, we allowed ourselves to get to this stage can be discussed another time. But we owe our future generation the obligation to make things right. Plastic carrier bags are relatively cheap and convenient. It comes at a lesser cost to businesses small and large, that’s why your favourite Waakye seller packages your food in a plastic polythene bag for you. Even when you buy a bar of soap from your neighbourhood retail store, its packaged in a black polythene bag for you. Larger grocery stores and restaurants across the city of Accra and Kumasi don’t shy away from it.
But with the convenience comes a menace we as a country didn’t plan for. Had our leaders see it coming, I bet they would have develop polices to regulate it. But we are here now, the plastic filth is all over us now, but beyond the filth that we see in our cities is negative effects that you probably haven’t thought about or you may never have been told.

So here are the 5 extremely harmful effects of plastic bags.

1. Plastic bags produces toxic fumes when it is burnt.

You may not be a smoker, but you can bear with me that we are confronted with a waste disposal challenge in Ghana. As to why some people prefer to burn their garbage in the night I don’t know. But when you, as innocent as you are, is comfortable relaxing, or about your business, you maybe breathing in toxic fumes in the air because somebody somewhere is burning their plastic waste. Imagine what this does to your health when it continues for a long while.

2. Plastic waste kills a lot of animals in our environment, especially the ones we use for food.

Plastic bags takes thousands of years to decompose. According to a New York Times article, about 100 Million to 1 trillion plastic bags are produced around the world annually. Only a small percentage is recycled. The rest gets to the waste stream. When it rains, observe our gutters, they are full of plastic waste. Because these plastic materials takes years to decompose, when they get to water bodies or soil, they are exposed to aquatic organisms (fish, tortoise etc.) birds, cows, goats and etc. When these animals mistake it for food, they suffocate and die. Other also gets entangled in this plastic bags and die. The Marrickville Council in UK reports that over 100, 000 whales, turtles and birds die every year as a result of plastic in the environment. Is it a wonder that that the large shoals of fish we use to get from our inland water bodies has drastically reduced over the years. Our cows, goats, sheep, and fowls are all at risk of dying.

3. Psychological inheritance leading to perpetual filth in our environment.

A research conducted by G. Owusu shows that children who grew up in an environment which is littered with (plastic) waste as a result of poor sanitary practices are unlikely to behave any different from their older community members who litter in the community. This may partly account for indiscipline behaviour towards littering and the lack of appreciation of good sanitary practices. So the more we litter our environments with plastic waste, the younger generation will replicate the same attitude until and unless we decide to change things.

4. The pollution caused by plastic bags affects our Agriculture

When plastic gets to the soil, the toxic dyes leaches to the soil. The plastic waste and these toxic dyes does not only inhibit the cultivation of food crops but can contaminate the food crops as well.

5. Petroleum Base Pollution

The black polythene bags that we see everyday are made from crude oil and natural gas. Both oil and gas are non-renewable natural resources therefore they are limited in supply. The more we mine them, the more we cause pollution to our natural environment.

Now that you’ve learnt about this dangerous effects, what are you going to do? The decision point starts from you. One way of eradicating this issue is opting for Paper Bag instead of plastic bags. Adopting Paper Carrier Bags comes with several advantages. It’s easy to decompose, recyclable and adds a touch of class to your brand. Read more about the benefits of using Paper Carrier Bags here. If you run a business and you want to switch from plastic to paper, we can help you do that cost effectively. Reach us today with the contact number provided on this site.

Owusu, G. (2010). Social effects of Poor Sanitation and Waste Management on Poor Urban Communities: a Neighborhood‐Specific study of Sabon Zongo, Accra, Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Place making and Urban Sustainability, 3:2, 145- 160.

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