“I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as if the house were on fire. Because it is.” – said a then 16-year-old Greta Thunberg. You already can sense the fear when a 16-year-old warns about our existence. Greta Thunberg’s fight isn’t just against the disadvantages of plastic bags, but the impact plastic creates on the plane is surely a concern to her, and should be to us all also.
The first word that comes to our mind as a plastic alternative is jute. Plastic bags have their disadvantages. But has jute won over plastic? The answer is No, not even close to the wire. But baby steps are and can make a change and end this jute vs plastic racetrack by jute on the finish line.
The Disadvantages of Using Plastic Bags
Plastics are a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as the main ingredient. Plastic is not biodegradable. Horrible right? Even the plastic straw we use to sip into our favorite drinks can harm in the wildest way. Then how is plastic harmful to the environment?
- A single plastic bag can take 500+ years to degrade and is likely to contaminate soil and waterways in doing so.
- 10% of plastic bags produced end up in the ocean, 70% of which find their way to the ocean floor where they are likely to never degrade. Plastic bags in our seas cause the death of many marine animals (turtles, fish, cetaceans) when they are mistaken for food
- Thousands of seabirds and sea turtles, seals, and other marine mammals are killed each year after ingesting plastic or getting entangled in it.
- Plastic affects human health and releases toxic gasses like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic chemicals, and polycyclic organic matter.
- Burning plastic also releases heavy metals and toxic chemicals such as dioxin.
- The most horrifying fact is microplastic pollution has been detected in human blood for the first time, with scientists finding the tiny particles in almost 80% of the people tested. The discovery shows the particles can travel around the body and may lodge in organs. The impact on health is as yet unknown.
How Is Jute an Alternative?
Jute fiber is made from the outer stem and skin of the jute plant, is prized for its versatility, and is most well known for its use in burlap and hessian cloth. But why do we support jute in the jute vs plastic race? Facts are –
- Biodegradable: It is 100% biodegradable. Even when the material is destroyed it can be used as an organic fertilizer for crops.
- Durable: The material has a life expectancy of two to three years.
- Reasonable & reusable: Jute is affordable and reusable. Many of us think biodegradable products are not reusable. This doesn’t happen with jute.
- Environment friendly
Alternative Jute Products
The major manufactured products from jute fiber are Yarn and twine, sacking, hessian, carpet backing cloth, and as well as for other textile blends. Among all the jute products, bags are the most talked about one. Jute vs plastic racetrack is now mainly based on jute bags vs plastic bags. When compared to plastic bags, jute bags have proven to be a lifesaver. Whether it’s pp bags vs jute bags or plastic gunny bags the jute bags are a win against them. The most interesting jute bag is “Jute Plastic”. It is also known as the Sonali Bag or Golden Bag or Jute Polymer or Eco-friendly Poly Bag. It is a cellulose-based biodegradable bioplastic alternative to plastic bags, particularly polythene bags, developed in Bangladesh by Mubarak Ahmad Khan. In a single line if you do decide to opt for reusable bags, you can’t go far wrong with a bag made from jute – a fiber with undeniable eco credentials. Jute bags’ environmental impact is simply undeniable.
Plastic Bags vs Jute Bags
- Jute is a biodegradable and extremely strong natural fiber. Plastics are non-biodegradable materials that take 400-1000 years to degrade.
- Plastic bags are made from petroleum, a nonrenewable natural resource, depleting an important natural resource. In comparison, jute bag manufacturing only requires naturally grown jute.
- Jute bags outlast plastic bags because they are reusable, durable, and look good for a longer period. Polybags and plastic bags have a shorter lifespan. As a result of a shorter life span, a greater amount of waste plastic deteriorates the environment and the health of living beings.
Present World With Jute vs Plastic
Plastic pollution is a huge problem—but communities, businesses, and governments are taking steps to reduce its impact on the environment. The United Nations revealed that 180 countries have pledged to help reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean. This might be a big step of change for jute vs plastic.
- The US Microbeads Ban
In 2015, the U.S. banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products. Several other countries including the UK, Canada, Taiwan, and New Zealand have also banned microbeads from rinse-off products.
- Australia’s Plastic Bag Bans
Victoria is the most recent Australian state to ban the sale of plastic bags. Retailers in Victoria will be subject to heavy fines for providing plastic carrier bags.
- Mexico City’s Plastic Bag Ban
Mexico City restricts all businesses excluding perishable food vendors. Companies who produce plastic bags outside of the area will be prohibited from selling them to Mexico City businesses.
- Canada’s Single-Use Plastic Ban
In Canada, infrastructure is being introduced nationally to reduce plastic waste. The Canadian Prime Minister said in a statement: “As parents, we’re at a point when we take our kids to the beach and we have to search out a patch of sand that isn’t littered with straws, Styrofoam, or bottles.”
- Thailand’s Plastic Bag Ban
Thailand has banned single-use plastic bags at major stores and supermarkets.
- The EU’s Single-Use Plastics Ban
In 2018 the EU banned 10 throwaway plastics including Styrofoam and single-use straws. Manufacturers of other plastic products—including water bottles and cups—have also seen more strict regulation and all plastic water bottles will need to contain 30 percent recycled content by 2030.
- Rwanda’s Bag Ban
As part of Rwanda’s recovery from genocide in the 1990s, the government emphasized environmental protection – including a ban on single-use plastic bags. Rwanda’s ban is particularly notable as it prohibits the manufacture, use, importation, and sale of single-use carrier bags.
- California’s Ban on Straws and Bags
California was the first state to ban single-use plastic bags in 2014 and the first to implement a partial ban on plastic straws in 2018. In the U.S., more than 470,000 people signed a petition asking Target to ditch plastic bags for good. Both IKEA and Costco have stopped providing plastic bags at cash registers.
- Britain’s Straw Ban
A ban on plastic straws, cotton buds, and stirrers was first announced in April 2018. The Welsh government has said Wales aims to be zero-waste by 2050.
- Bangladesh Plastic Bag Ban
The government of Bangladesh was the first to introduce a total ban on lightweight plastic bags in 2002.
How Close Are We To The Finish Line?
A bitter truth is we have the laws but they are not strictly followed. Plastic is still used in a wide range. The disadvantages of using plastic bags are getting wider and wider everyday. The world and its people, we are not paying enough attention to that. A simple daily shift from plastic bags to jute bags is enough to win the jute vs plastic battle. It is not impossible to deny plastic. Remember the famous quote “One plastic straw does not matter, said 8 billion people.” It does matter. And your actions count. Millions of people are already doing their best to be conscious of their plastic consumption. You won’t be the first one but you’ll be joining a strong movement.