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In March 2019, a Cuvier’s beaked whale was found helplessly vomiting blood within the waters of the Philippines, dying shortly afterward. It was found that 30 plastic shopping bags had settled in its stomach, inflicting a build-up of abdomen acid that dissolved the walls of the whale’s abdomen which caused it to bleed to death internally. This is just one of the common results caused by the consumption of plastic bags.
In July 2017, the two largest supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles announced that in July 2018 they will no longer be providing free lightweight plastic bags. Well, you can clearly see why but this implementation, however, received some negative complaints from the customers but I don’t see how really anything could be worse than animals suffocating, starving to death all while our environment is polluted with plastic. Let me elaborate further on the horrendous outcomes.
Over one million marine creatures, birds and animals die each year from plastic trash. About 700 species eat plastic especially plastic bags, as they are significantly enticing to marine wildlife as they appear just like jellyfish, a preferred food of seabirds, turtles, sharks, and fish. But rather than providing nourishment, the rubbish will puncture the lining of the stomach or may block the internal organ tract of the animal consuming it, causing the animal to die of starvation. And for smaller animals, they become either tangled or stuck in plastic baggage and drown as a result of them not being able to free themselves. Allow me to enlighten you with a scenario.
A small pilot whale was found struggling to swim, unable to breathe in a Thai canal near the Malaysia border. The whale vomited five plastic bags during the rescue attempt, only to die five days later. An autopsy disclosed that over seven kilograms of plastic had clogged the whale’s abdomen, creating it no longer possible for it to ingest proper food. Experts suggest that the whale mistook plastic for food and the accumulation of trash tricked the animal thinking it was full, thus became malnourished.
To those who justify the withdrawal of lightweight plastic bags by arguing that the ban has greatly inconvenienced customers and caused increased costs for the consumers. I don’t just understand how this little hassle will impact our daily lives so greatly to the point where it is equivalent to the horrific torture that animals go through caused by these plastic bags. Not only do we use these plastic bags for a measly “12 minutes” but only 14 percent of plastic bags actually get recycled.
If these horrific imageries of marine animals choking to death, starving to death, bleeding to death are not enough to convince you then maybe staggering statistics on the pollution of plastic in our environment will. Australian consumers use about 3.92 billion plastic bags each year, meaning over 160 plastic bags per person only in one year. “We are drowning in plastic”. That number is insane considering how Plastic bags can sit in the landfills for up to 1000 years. Single-use plastic bags and cups are found to be the main pollutants so by Coles and Woolworths banning free lightweight plastic bags, it will encourage other shops to follow. This will greatly alleviate the amount of plastic rubbish being dumped into our beautiful oceans and landfills. So get your head out of the bag, change starts with you.
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