Dr. Babita Mahajan
Paper Bag Day is celebrated on 12th July globally every year to make people aware about the use of paper bags that contribute to fight with climate change and environmental pollution. In 1852, an American inventor, Francis Wolle, established the first paper bag machine. In 1871, Margaret E. Knight designed another paper bag machine that can produce flat-bottom paper bags. She became famous and came to be known as the mother of the grocery bag. The industry of paper bags is positioning itself as the natural solution to make the environment safe and healthy.
Since the 1950s, plastic has been a real success. Its global production is growing exponentially. Its success comes from its remarkable qualities: ease of shaping, low cost, mechanical. Being the ideal material for packaging, plastic is everywhere. But at the same time, we ignored the havoc of plastic pollution on the land and rivers, wildlife and habitat, and also on human health. The plastic debris represents chemical pollution in several ways. They contain compounds that can chemically transfer to organisms during ingestion. Some of these molecules are potentially toxic and can accumulate in the body. Besides, plastic bags also affect crop growth by hindering the process of photosynthesis in agricultural fields. Due to the excessive utilization of plastic bags, our ecosystem gets disturbed. Plastic bags are so light that they can catch a breeze and travel in the air, ending up in places where they negatively impact the ecosystem. This harmful impact is not only on the terrestrial area but, also it is highly responsible for endangering the life of marine creatures. Because of the plastic bags, aquatic animals are in great danger. The reason is when plastic clogs the oceans, lakes, rivers, its harmful toxic chemicals swallowed by marine animals results in their death. Apart from it, when animals take any piece of the plastic, it automatically blocks the throat by which any food will not be able to enter the stomach. Due to starvation, especially sea turtles, minke whales, seabirds die. The reason is they think that the plastic bag is jellyfish or any other food item. Because of the chemical additives used during plastic production, plastics have potentially harmful effects on human health. Indeed, exposure to toxic chemicals coming out of plastic can cause cancers, birth-defect, impaired immunity and other health problems. From the past few years, toxic waste is one of the major concerns in all nations. And you will not believe one of the critical reasons behind this is the use of plastic bags. So, to save the atmosphere from further degradation, use more and more paper bags as it will dispose quickly and don’t harm marine life. Due to this reason, it is wise to switch from plastic bags to use paper bags. Using paper bags is eco-friendly. Paper bags have made up of renewable resources and so are easily recyclable. Paper bags are biodegradable and do not leftover toxins. They can be used again and again with careful handling. They can easily compost in a home composter. Paper bags are inexpensive and practical to use. One advantage of paper is that it decomposes much more quickly than plastic and, it is less likely to be a source of litter. Paper degrades in less than six months, and after degradation, its waste will turn into fertile for vegetation while plastic bags can take between 400 and 1,000 years to decompose. Use of paper bags makes your environment and yourself safe. Educate children, families and individuals about the environmental and health costs we pay for the convenience of using plastic products
Let us pledge on this day to do something drastic to make our earth charismatic. Use more and more paper bags to make our planet free from rags.
(The author is Asst. Prof. at G.G.M Science College)
Dr. Babita Mahajan