The fight against plastic bags has been going on for so long. This mere, one-time, disposable bag has caused us more harm than we expected. The use of plastic bags kicked off in 1979 when Kroger and Safeway picked them up in 1982, in America and since then it has been a death threat to all of us.
Our seas and oceans have been choked by plastics. A week ago a pregnant, sperm whale washed up on the coast near Porto Cervo, a resort town on Italy’s island of Sardinia. The saddening news was that she was carrying a dead baby whale along with nearly 50 pounds of plastic waste jammed into her belly. Her body couldn’t access the nutrients from the food she had eaten as her intestines were blocked by the morass of plastic waste.
The plastic situation is escalating at quite an alarming rate and we need to take quick steps to stop it from rising any further.
One such grand and daring step was taken by the Hunza community.
This mountainous valley of Hunza that rests on the extreme northern border of Pakistan has decided to make the use of plastic bags punishable by crime.
Yeap, you heard that right!
The administration of Hunza district came together with the local traders to reach the decision of banning the use of plastic bags. They are expected to end their stock by April 20.
Plastic bags are detrimental to the natural environment and human health, “a district administration circular states. “All the traders dealing in plastic bags should end their stock by April 20.”
The ban was successfully imposed by the help of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Karakoram Area Development Organization.
What most of us are unaware of is that other provinces also imposed this ban but were not able to carry it out as effectively. Due to the lack of awareness, hardly anyone ever got to know about it and neither could they ensure proper implementation.
They have already equipped themselves to deal with this later on by producing paper and cloth bags to make sure they have alternatives and this ban doesn’t fall back after a while.
Hunza is quite a progressive area with a literacy rate of more than 77 percent. It is famous among tourists and is known for its scenic beauty. Tourism has placed a vital role in its economic growth as thousands of people from abroad and inside the country come to visit it every year.
“We launched an awareness campaign about the deleterious effects of plastic shoppers in collaboration with the Karakoram Area Development Organization,” said Khadim Hussain, deputy-director ENvironmental Protection Agency Gilgit-Baltistan, while in conversation with SAMAA TV.
The Hunza administration was smart enough to take the local businessmen in confidence first so they could UNDERSTAND the motive behind this ban. They educated them on the current plastic situation all over the world.
“We took the local population and businessmen in confidence for the purpose. They welcomed the step and assured their complete cooperation,” said Khadim Hussain.
The said ban will be in full force starting from April 20. It will also open new opportunities for businesses as the paper and cloth bags will be produced locally.
They have placed signboards for visitors so they could cooperate with them and stalls have been set up to for shopper bags made of paper and cloth.
They will start by banning it in Hunza first and then extend it to other areas of Gilgit-Baltistan as well.
This is a great initiative and we are hoping somehow this would have a trickle-down effect on other provinces as well. Even if they officially don’t, we could play our part by replacing plastic bags with paper or cloth bags in our lives.
Let’s all start small.