Bhama S. fumes over the indiscriminate use of plastic in our supermarkets, even to tuck away a few lemons

The environmental hazards created by the commonly used plastic bags are enormous. From sewage and drainage lines getting clogged and creating floods in big cities, to choking and strangling wildlife in oceans and rivers, the ubiquitous plastic bags do everything to destroy the environment. They decrease the productivity of the arable land because they do not rot or turn into compost.

Plastic takes more than 1,000 years to degrade! Recycling plastic bags is difficult and expensive and only one per cent of the plastic bags were recycled (according to a recent study in the United States).

When polythene-packing materials are burnt at temperatures, which are too low, they release toxic gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other substances, which are harmful to human beings (can cause cancer) and contribute to global warming.

Many countries such as Australia, Ireland, Bangladesh, France and Germany have brought about rules to reduce the number of plastic carry bags, such as taxes and charges on plastic bags, encouraging cloth bags, etc.

Here in our rapidly expanding city, new supermarket chains that sell fresh fruit and vegetables have sprung up, and it is appalling to note that customers are required to use a thin plastic bag for every single fruit or vegetable they buy.

This increases the use of plastic many-fold and is totally unnecessary. Just enter one of these elite stores and you see a sorry spectacle — people mindlessly tearing plastic covers off the roll even for a cucumber and plastic strewn all over the floor.

All vegetable vendors on the streets nowadays keep a supply of plastic carry bags, and generously give you one even if you buy a couple of lemons or a bunch of coriander leaves.

Gone are the good old days when a string of flowers is wrapped in a bit of paper or in a leaf. Remember the times when toor dhal used to be so cleverly packed in newspaper cones?

Every pre-packaged item is in plastic these days. This alone creates enough waste to ruin our environment. A large country like the US perhaps can afford huge landfills for dumping waste, but not in our country, where land space is a premium.

So isn’t it our duty to try and cut out the unnecessary plastic bags by carrying a cloth bag or a shopping basket when we go shopping?

Shouldn’t big supermarkets be banned from using plastic and show the way by supplying inexpensive cloth or paper bags?

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