Saving our planet; one bag at a time

April 4, 2004

Plastic bags are killing whales

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 1:01 am

I read an article Rob Crilly and Emma Newlands wrote for The Herald in Scotland about a whale that was washed up on the Hebridean coast. Its stomach was filled with plastic bags.

More evidence that plastic bags are playing havoc with life as we know and love it. A recent survey found scraps of plastic inside 96% of seabirds tested.

Marine creatures mistake plastic bags for food such as jellyfish or squid.

Dr Dan Barlow, head of research at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “It’s quite clear that plastic bags are a pollutant in their own right, and not only do they use a lot of resources in their production, but also because of the way they’re disposed of.

“The fact that a lot of marine life is being affected by plastic bags shows that we really need to levy some sort of plastic bag tax if we are to save resources and help the environment. The sooner this happens in Scotland the better.”

A plastic bag tax of about 15p introduced in Ireland in 2002 has cut their use by 90% and reduced litter.

Research revealed at the weekend also suggested that many seabirds were being turned into living dustbins.

The study by Dutch scientists of fulmars, gull-like seabirds which nest around Britain’s coast, showed that 367 of 382 birds studied had ingested plastic waste.

About a million birds and 100,000 mammals and turtles are estimated to become entangled in marine rubbish around the world each year.

Surface-feeding species of bird, such as albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels and gulls, are the most susceptible to eating debris.

An autopsy on a Minke whale in France in April 2002 found just under 1lb of plastics in its stomach, including two English supermarket plastic bags.

A leatherback turtle washed ashore in Scotland in the 1990s showed that it appeared to have died from starvation caused by plastic and metal litter blocking its digestive tract.

What makes this most tragic is how easily avoidable this is. All we need to do is to carry cloth bags with us when we go shopping (leave a few in the car, have a depository at all our local shops, there are many solutions).

Most humans have no concept of the scale of this problem. Now that you’ve read this, I hope you will stop using plastic bags from this moment. If you’d like to take a little initiative to encourage your friends to also do so, write to me, I have a method to suggest.

1 Comment »

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