Are we really concerned about the environment when it comes to our daily routine? One of the biggest factors affecting the environment is the use of polyethylene plastic bags distributed to shoppers from hypermarkets. In supermarkets and takeaway food outlets, plastic bags are given to the customers as per the requirements. While carry bags may be essential, are there any efforts on the part of individuals with regard to the disposal of these bags after their use.
‘‘In Oman, for example, plastic bags are provided to carry food or soft drinks on purchase from a restaurant or a supermarket before an evening outing. What happens is that these ‘users’ just dump the plastic bags at the same spot after use, while others take a point to throw it away in a dustbin,’’ said Mariam al Balushi, a private sector receptionist who frequents public parks during the weekend.
She wants boxes to be kept to separate disposable or single-use plastic bags at public places alongside a campaign on the use of reusable bags.
‘‘The retail outlets should limit the distribution of plastic bags and they should offer customers only if needed. Sometimes, a customer may not need a bag for a bottle of water’,’ said Suleiman, a visitor at the Qurum park.
‘‘In supermarkets as we take care not to mix food items, toiletries and detergents, the number of plastic bags for a single person increases. We have not put any restrictions but encourage customers to use more of reusable bags,’’ says a branch manager at a leading supermarket in Muscat.
The Environment Society of Oman (ESO) urges people to avoid throwing plastic unnecessarily. ‘‘Take plastic bags when you go shopping and reuse them. Also use toys that will last and say no to plastic if you don’t need them,’’ it said.
‘‘This problem will not be resolved overnight with fines and penalties, but plastic should be treated on par with dangerous substances such as tobacco or narcotics,’’ said a paediatric at a private hospital.
He added that harmful effects of plastic are not immediate but in the long-term through various illness or for the newborns with some ailments.
According to a study from Earth Policy Institute, ‘‘Nearly one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. The problem is that these bags contain polyethylene and cannot biodegrade, which means if they aren’t recycled or disposed of properly, they become pollution that we commonly see alongside the road or floating in the water. This equals trouble for not only us and our environment, but animals and other wildlife as well.’’