nice cloth bag. not.

it is one thing to create a massive and global problem thanks to our usage of plastic in almost everything. it is quite another to well, try and fix something and make it even worse.

an example is what we have done with plastic waste, which is easily about 80% of all plastic that has ever been produced. since the 1950s and especially after the ’90s, the world has been producing and consuming plastic at an alarming rate, the kind of graph we see again and again in human activity.

by 2015, the world had produced almost 8 billion tonnes of various forms of plastic (chart from ourworldindata.org). let’s just say the earliest plastic from 1907 is most likely still literally floating around.

in india approximately 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated per day. which is a lot.

since india is also in the top 20 countries that have bad management of plastic waste, we are simply swimming in plastic. this state of affairs led to some indian states banning single-use plastic [because realistically its quite difficult to eliminate all plastic]

so long story short, we decided to ban the most visible plastic…little plastic bags. but then the question that we had to answer was, what do we replace it with? everyone wants the convenience of walking into a store empty-handed and walking out with things…inside a bag. so the replacement was a little “cloth bag”.

but wait, let’s get the economics into this. it turns out that the cloth bags made of real cloth or jute are more expensive. so some retail stores started using paper bags. but most converted to something even cheaper…and which also looked like cloth kinda. basically these.

these are non-woven bags that are now being provided by shops across the country to replace the thin plastic bags. anecdotally, many people think these are cloth bags [i.e. if you have a really bad sense of what cloth feels like]. everyone starts using these thinking they’re doing something better for the environment. but they are not.

a study by toxiclinks, a delhi-based “environmental research and advocacy organisation” conclusively shows that these non-woven bags are in fact made from…polypropylene, a plastic polymer.

thus it can be inferred that these bags, that are being identified as alternates to plastic bags, are nothing but plastic itself.

quote from toxiclinks report

let me repeat that…we replaced thin plastic bags with thick plastic bags that look like cloth. human ingenuity, when fuelled by greed, knows no bounds. bravo homo (non)sapiens.

what can we do? get everyone you know to stop using these bags. tell the retailer it’s not a good plastic alternative. and if you can, petition the government to change the laws in your state to include a ban of these bags.

what else? well i think we also need to question everything that is being told to us and verify it with scientific peer-reviewed research, but that is another story.

featured image photo by xianyu hao on unsplash