Banning People From Using Plastic Bags is not the Solution
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Biodegradable plastic bags have arrived
The Supreme Court of India has banned use of plastic bags less than 40 microns thick. In Chennai city, retail shoppers are charging the customers for the plastic bags they supply for carrying the bought goods. Paper bags are inconvenient and cannot carry heavy goods. Now compostable and biodegradable plastic bags may soon appear in the Chennai city to solve this problem. The demand for such bags is already witnessing an upward trend with increasing awareness. Biodegradable plastic bags have a small carbon footprint. Compostable and biodegradable plastic bags are prepared from renewable resin obtained from soya bean or potato and degrade in the soil in about three months’ time.
Foot shortage will result
The only hitch in this scheme is that potatoes may become costly and may even become unavailable for cooking. But this cannot be avoided. Usage of plastic bags is being objected to by the environmentalists, civil society organisations and human rights organisations on a massive scale. They object to the use of plastics because it is non-biodegradable. They want biodegradable substitutes to replace plastic. Any biodegradable substance can be manufactured only from plants and animals. In other words, food becomes the source of manufacture of such biodegradable items. This will satisfy environmentalists and human rights organisations. They do not mind the cost of food shooting up. Already foodgrains are misused for the production of bio-fuel and ethanol which is also used as a fuel. This has decreased the availability of foodgrains to the growing population and increased their prices also. But environmentalists are not concerned about non-availability of foodgrains or potatoes and the steep increase in their prices, affecting poor people. All they want is that non-biodegradable plastic should be out of use.
Civil riot will be the consequence
A stage may come in the world in which the poor people of the world will fight against the use of the foodgrains for commercial purposes like manufacture of fuel, plastic bags etc. Even a civil war may ensue with the growing pressure of population on limited availability of foodgrains. Environmentalists who preach and advocate use of biodegradable materials may be attacked with gusto by the rioting mob for their quota of food. This may take place even early in less than a decade’s time.
Old days saw people carrying cloth bags to the shop
But at the same time, the necessity of eliminating plastic consumption in the society cannot be exaggerated. Plastics have become a nuisance in the world. Nobody knows how to dispose them off. Even if they are thrown in the ocean, they will float in the ocean for millions of years and cause environmental hazards and pollution. Scientists should invent a method to dispose off this waste. That will be a boon to the world. I remember that in the sixties and seventies, in the very same Chennai city, consumers going for shopping used to carry cloth bags. The shopkeeper used to place the goods purchased inside these cloth bags after packing them in paper. The shops never supplied plastic bags. This habit started in the eighties on a slow scale and spread wildly in the nineties and afterwards.
Why not ban production of plastic bags?
Another question that I raise is, instead of banning the shopkeepers to supply goods to the consumers in plastic bags, why not the Supreme Court ban the production of plastic bags itself? After all, the plastic bags do not land in the shops falling from the sky. They are manufactured in factories and are supplied to the shops by the manufacturers. Why not the Court stops the production of these harmful plastic bags at the source itself? Why not the environmentalists demand that? There could be two reasons for the Court not banning production of plastic bags and the environmentalists not demanding it. First, millions of people depend for their livelihood on production of plastics. Therefore, the environmentalists and the Court could have considered it against society to deprive millions of people of their jobs by banning production of plastics. Secondly, these manufacturers could have used their clout and money power to continue production of these bags. Since the general public are not financially powerful, the Courts are finding it easy to ban usage of plastic bags by them. Environmentalists also find it easy to protest against people using plastic bags.
Cigarette companies have the clout
It is almost a repetition of what is happening in tobacco industry. Environmentalists are demanding a ban in smoking in public places. Courts and the governments have also conceded their demands and banned public smoking in several places like buses, trains, airplanes, parks etc. My question is why not the environmentalists demand a ban on the production of cigarettes? After all if cigarettes are not produced, nobody can smoke them in public or private. But the cigarette companies like ITC with their clout and financial muscle will never allow that to happen.
I am seeing only hypocrisy in all these measures. The society is cheating itself by all these nonsensical measures. Almost everybody is becoming insane. Sane people’s voices are being suppressed.