Thursday, September 23, 2010

Plastic isn’t terrific

Last year the whole world saw the wrath of nature unleashed on a
people grown used to taking the environment for granted or,worse,
abusing it.

The unprecedented volume of rainfall that kept most of Metro Manila
under water for weeks in the wake of the back-to-back devastation of
Ondoy and Pepeng swept up garbage, mostly discarded plastic materials
and other non-biodegradable debris that clogged rivers, esteros, and
other waterways.

Nature’s payback time came big time.

Having gotten over the tragedy and moved on, we should have learned
our lesson and realized the folly of plastic and other
non-biodegradable materials.

But did we? We are still clinging – like the thin plastic film used to
cover leftover food – to the bad, old ways of carrying things. It’s
as if we’re hooked on the use of plastic and related products.

This paper has strongly and serially denounced the use of plastic
packaging materials, and so we again join environmental advocates in
reiterating the call for a ban on the use of plastic bags.

A Metro Manila city had earlier passed an ordinance banning the use of
such bags, but such ban should be made nationwide.

Environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition said plastic bags account
for most of the litter that clogs waterways in the metropolis, making
it difficult for floodwaters to recede after a heavy downpour.

Based on a 2006 joint survey conducted by EcoWaste and Greenpeace,
plastic bags and other synthetic packaging materials comprised 76
percent of the garbage retrieved from Manila Bay.

Half of the 76 percent were plastic bags, the survey said. About 19
percent were junk food wrappers and sachets, five percent styrofoam
and one percent hard plastics.

Eco Waste said the public should switch from plastic bags to reusable
ones and urged the government to impose measures to discourage their

“Tropical Storm Ondoy taught us in a deeply painful and costly way
that practices which defile and destroy the ecosystems have no place
in our fragile planet and should stop,” Roy Alvarez, EcoWaste
Coalition president, was quoted by a major broadsheet as saying.

Floodwaters spawned by heavy rains brought by Ondoy ravaged at least
80 percent of Metro Manila, leaving scores of people dead and
destroying millions of pesos worth of property.

“Our addiction to plastic bags and to everything that is disposable
has exacerbated the effects of the epic flood and made the post-Ondoy
cleanup most difficult,” Alvarez said.

“By switching from disposable plastic bags to reusable bags and
containers, we will dramatically cut our waste size, and clean out our
waterways and [dumps] which are bursting at the seams,” he added.

The group noted that consumers could use alternatives to plastic bags
such as bayong and baskets made of biodegradable plant materials. Old
garments and cloth could also be made into bags, it suggested.


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