Sunday, March 05, 2006

You can make a difference - Tip 2

My friend S. was delighted when she found out her environmentally-friendly tip got so much exposure after part of my post about not leaving the water running got published last Friday in Emirates Today.

So here is Tip 2:

Topic: Plastic bags

Problem: Take up to 20-1000 years to degrade. Escape and float easily in air and water, travel long distances.

Result: Each year, one trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide (over one million per minute) and an estimated 100,000 birds, dolphins, seals and turtles die by mistaking them with food. Not to mention the eyesore as litter.

Tip of the month: Refuse, reuse or recycle! Refuse when buying items small enough to carry by hand, take out, shopping blabla. Reuse for garbage, carrying stuff. Definitely best to use a jute/hemp bag. The perfect accessory for the granny look - I hear it already.

Facts: A turtle mistakes a bag for jellyfish (its primary food source), chokes on it/gets intestines blocked. Interestingly, the dead body biodegrades, the plastic bag doesn't. Instead, it roams around again, tempting another turtle. A serial killer I tell you.

Plastic bags are banned in Bangladesh! (main culprit of 2 severe floodings)

A tax on plastic bags has been introduced in Ireland; consumption has plummeted 90 %.

Again, my oh so wise friend S. made me think. Why is it that we don't have paper bags here? Every time I go shopping at Choitram's, I end up coming home with 4 or plastic bags, big and small. Of course I do not throw them away, I keep them and re-use them, but I now have enough plastic bags to last me a lifetime!

Why don't grocery stores at least give the option to its customers to either pick plastic or paper bags. That could be a first step. And if anything, it would make plastic bag users think about switching to paper bags.

Anyway, from now on, I will try to avoid asking for a plastic bag when I only have a couple of items to carry. I already re-use plastic bags. I don't know about the jute/hemp bag....not because of a fashion statement, mostly because I doubt I'll remember to carry a hemp/jute bag with me when I go grocery shopping.

But I'll try S. I promise.


Keefieboy said...

This drives me nuts: if you let the baggers get their way they'd happily put every single item in its own bag. I always get them to cram everything into as few bags as possible. And about once a month we sort out all the bags we've collected and take them back to the shop. The guys at Choity's used to think we were crazy when we started doing this, but they're used to it now.

Jin said...

We have the same problem at home in South Africa, but (I think it was last year) the gov't introduced a law whereby consumers had to pay for their plastic bags. I know it's helped, but because I'm not living at home, can't tell you how much it's actually helped! It certainly does make a difference though & I think if the UAE started charging for bags, there'd be a whole lot less around.

vasilisa said...

Ok, now I can't get the image of degrading turtle and remaining bag out of my head. :)

But it's true, the bags are awful when you see them at sea. I remember years ago I was at the sea beach, and no one could go swimming, because the whole beach was swampted with garbage and plastic bags.

In Canada alternatives to plastic bags exist only at highly overpriced health-food stores, or at very cheap stores where you take your groceries in recicled boxes. In all the other everyday stores there is not much you can do. I can't imagine anybody ever remembering to bring their own bags.

I hope the "green" groups start lobbying the government, so that we can make better choices.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sunshine

This is your friend S. from cyberspace.

About the paper bags...

14 million trees need to be cut down to produce 10 billion paper grocery bags.

Gotta love that granny bag!


Dubai Sunshine said...

Not sure I am ready to embrace the granny bag just yet S. Baby steps :)