Editorial

Let’s bag the bags

Friday, June 8, 2018

A distressed pilot whale was found in a canal in Thailand last week and a veterinary team rescued it and attempted to “stabilize its illness,” but it died after vomiting plastic bags. An autopsy exhumed more than 17 pounds of additional plastic rubbish from the whale’s stomach, including a total of 80 plastic bags.

The pilot whale wasn’t the only recent casualty of ocean pollution; in April, a 33-foot sperm whale found dead on a Spanish beach had more than 60 pounds of garbage in its digestive system.

Around the world, 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in oceans every year, comprising 80% of all ocean litter. A March study found that a collection of 1.8 trillion pieces of trash in the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch could amount to 16 times more waste than previously thought.

Some countries are considering introducing a tax on disposable plastic shopping bags, or introducing biodegradable alternatives to cut down on plastic waste that now overruns our landfills and waters.

There are reports of many cities in many countries clandestinly dispose of their garbage in cargo ships to be dumped at sea in the dark of night.

Plastic is a wonder of science but its time as a common grocery bag must cease. We must stop using them and legislators need to ban them now.

(Paul Struck)