Prahlad Rao | August 21, 2015
A plastic bag is impeding human evolution or say, making us irresponsible. How can a filthy but convenient product like a plastic bag affect human intelligence?
Every city in India is fighting the plastic bag menace. Shopkeepers in Delhi are harassed by customers and activists in Bengaluru are making consumers resist the need for a bag. But, in vain.
The feeling of convenience that a plastic bag generates is the single most factor affecting human evolution. The plastic bag has made a human being extremely impulsive. Because we can stuff anything in a plastic bag, which is available at stores is making us buy without a thought for our needs. We buy because we can carry them in a plastic bag. We do not seem to be evaluating our buying habits or retail therapy satisfaction. It is all because of plastic bag.
We do not plan our buying which stems from needs. If we plan our shopping list at least we would think of carrying jute or a cloth bag to the market. We ask for plastic bag even to carry pain killer tablets. We have stopped thinking because we no longer plan or think what we need. We need pain killers while we are slowly killing the Earth.
Consider the plastic menace: India’s plastic consumption is one of the highest in the world. Plastics are very resistant to degradation and they will take 300 years to photo degrade. Plastic bags are made from natural gas or oil and consume thousands of barrels of oil a day.
In the fields the plastic bags when deposited in high quantities cause soil infertility. The accumulation of plastic prevents the sunlight from entering the soil thus destroying the beneficial bacteria, so necessary for soil fertility.
The burning of plastic in temperatures less than 800 degrees Celsius in an open space creates noxious fumes such as hydrogen cyanide and other poisonous gases which cause air pollution resulting in skin, and respiratory problems and also certain kinds of cancer.
Plastic wastes when dumped in or thrown into rivers, ponds or sea have disastrous effects on the species living underwater, and a lot of marine life is lost due to this. Plastic waste blocks drains and gutters, stopping the flow of rain water and sewerage, causing an overflow which becomes the breeding ground for germs and bacteria causing many diseases.
Workers and people living near a plastic or resin factory are prone to certain kinds of cancer and birth defects.
Domestic animals like cows and goats are often found dead after swallowing bits of plastic that gets mingled with the grass they eat. This is not an exhaustive list but is corrosive enough to sit up and take note.
Plastic bag is not just about environment but about human evolution. Thinking, planning and responding defines human condition and contributes to evolution. We cannot let a plastic bag to make us indiscipline and abandon thinking to Google search.
The Moral Contagion By Julia Hauser and Sarnath Banerjee HarperCollins, 140 pages, Rs 699 The world has lar
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