Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Karachi's green move: Ban on thin plastic bags. Longer live the Green Turtle!

Longer live the Green Turtle of Karachi!

In a series of bans on thin, bio-hazardous plastics bags that is spreading across Asia, the City District Government Karachi's ban is the latest. In late February, the Karachi City Administrator Syed Mustufa Kamal urged town and union councils to create awareness amongst residents of the city before the government clamped down on businesses.

However, news these days are best received through word-of-mouth despite the large ads the government has been placing in national newspapers - I got this one on the right from the leading Urdu daily Jang. And so, it was our milkman who informed us that he will no longer be serving milk in infamous thin plastic bags. We have to get utensils.

Then yesterday, I went to the bakery to do my usual large shopping - and wasn't the only one who had to lap up her purchase like a baby... they told us to remember to brings bags from home.

My environmental-conscious mother is delighted - and I am glad, too, that our government has taken the ban seriously. In Pakistan, we tend to buy from small shops around the corner, and in the past two days, all shopkeepers denied us plastic bags. A medical store owner informed me that shops have been fined since March 15th, 2007, as promised in the ad above.

Not all plastic bags have been banned, only those less than 30-microns thick. These are not bio-degradable. Which means they don't "melt, evaporate, break down into other substances nor can be converted into other stuff." In ecology, everything must come from something, and then become something after being used, or we will be stuck with stuff. This is called an ecological cycle (and see carbon cycle too, here, another).

All natural things become something else upon birth and death. Humans, however, have created some stuff which gets stuck, because it does not break down ("degrade") into something useful. Such as, thin plastic. That's why governments across the world are taking swift action to ban this stuff. States as far apart as South Africa (2003) and India (selected states, 2005, etc.) have banned bad plastic.

Bio-stuck plastic has been killing the marine life of Karachi, especially the famous Green Turtles (WWF page here) who choke on bad plastic.

So. Get a cloth tote. DON'T rely on paper - because sometimes producing paper uses more energy than producing plastic. Save the planet, one shopping trip at a time!

Photo credit:
Top: Karachi City Government ad reproduced in good faith.
Bottom: By Hemanshu Kumar @ Flickr. May not be reproduced for commercial uses.

E-mail: nextbyramla AT

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