Saturday December 03, 2022

‘Addressing negative impacts of climate change can help tackle pandemics’

June 07, 2020

Rawalpindi : The speakers at a ceremony stressed the need of addressing the negative impacts of climate change to avert the threats faced by mankind in shape of coronavirus and other epidemics and tackle them more easily.

They called for more eco-friendly alternatives to plastics and the promotion of reusable products like cloth bags instead of polythene shopping bags. They said that excessive use of shopping bags is resulting in spread of more and more diseases therefore there is a dire need of creating awareness among people to shun its usage and instead adopt the healthy practice of utilising cloth bags for shopping.

These views were expressed by Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan Memorial Trust Chief Executive Officer Sumaira Gul, while addressing a sanitiser and cloth bags distribution ceremony in collaboration with National Cleaning and Production Centre (NCPC) at UC 4 in connection with World Environment Day.

She also highlighted that the adverse impacts of plastic bags are undeniable. “When they’re not piling up in landfills, they’re blocking storm drains, littering streets, getting stuck in trees, and contaminating oceans, where fish, seabirds, and other marine animals eat them or get tangled up in them,” said Sumaira Gul.

Rawalpindi Waste Management Company officials Israr Bangash, Mohammad Afzal Qureshi, National Cleaning and Production Centre Director Irshad Ramay, representative from PACIFIC attended the ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, National Cleaning and Production Centre Director Irshad Ramay said that life span of polythene shopping bag is thousands of years. “Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade - breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits. A plastic bag can take between 400 to 1,000 years to break down in the environment. As it breaks down, plastic particles contaminate soil and waterways and enter the food web when animals accidentally ingest them. As it does, sunlight and heat cause the plastic to release powerful greenhouse gases, leading to an alarming feedback loop. As our climate changes, the planet gets hotter, the plastic breaks down into more methane and ethylene, increasing the rate of climate change, and so perpetuating the cycle.” He said the more and more use of polythene or plastic shopping bags is causing spread of serious ailments.

Speaking on the occasion other speakers stressed that cloth bags are better than plastic bags for many reasons, but two of the biggest reasons include that they are reusable, decreasing the need to use more materials for single-use production, and cloth bags reduce plastic use and therefore plastic pollution.

They stressed the need of focusing on creating awareness against the excessive usage of plastic bags or shoppers as they cause long term environmental damage. They stressed the need of promoting the use of cloth bags as a more environment friendly alternative.

They said that single-use plastic bags have many disadvantages. They are: dangerous for all life forms whether human, animal or plant; toxic if burnt and release fumes that cause diseases such as cancer; detrimental to fertility of agricultural soil; often found blocking gutters and drains; a traffic hazard as empty bags sometimes fly out of nowhere onto vehicles, obstructing visibility. They said that the rampant use of plastic bags has turned world into a huge garbage dump! They said that it us up to the residents can curtail this plastic bag menace by shunning its use and adopting cloth bags.