Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Next 400 Years

The Economic Times in India features an article about "The Next 400 Years," with the 400 years being the amount of time it takes for a plastic bag to "degrade." A short outline of the global devastation and a call to arms, follows.
It is estimated that globally, a million plastic bags are consumed every minute. India is a major contributor to this staggering statistic. This is a disaster already in the making. Why? Unfortunately, the list is long – but here is a flavour:
• Choked Drains : Light poly-bags settle in drains. They cause backflow and water logging. Poly-bag induced water logging triggers off landslides in the mountains.
• Soil Degradation : Poly-bags are non-porous and non-biodegradable. They obstruct free flow of water and air, choking the soil and suffocating plant roots. Toxic chemical additives cause soil quality degradation.
• Animal Deaths : Cows eat poly-bags and die. National Geographic estimates that over 100,000 marine animal deaths per year are directly related to ingestion of plastic bags
• Food Hazards : Most plastics today come from petrochemicals. Laboratory studies show that some of these chemicals are linked to cancer and kidney damage and may interfere with the reproductive system.
• Mosquito Breeding : Stray poly-bags act as receptacles of water, sufficient enough for mosquito breeding.
• Polluting Industry : Manufacture of poly-bags, mainly in small moulding shops, with no environmental standards involve hazardous materials and emit obnoxious gases posing serious problems for workers and the environment.
• Disposal Hazards : If disposed through landfills, poly-bags continue to pollute soil for many years. If burnt they emit hazardous gases that pollute the air.
Read the entire article here.