Look for a Suit­able Al­ter­na­tive

A great open­ing for bam­boo too!

Woman's Era - - Editorial - By C. K. Subra­ma­niam

The great­est man-made dis­as­ter to­wards green en­vi­ron­ment comes from use of plas­tic, es­pe­cially the thin film va­ri­ety. This writer while tour­ing vast ar­eas of South­ern In­dia was pleas­antly sur­prised to see the strict en­force­ment of plas­tic ban. Dur­ing my visit to Ma­ha­balesh­war, Au­rangabad and Pune last year, I have no­ticed aware­ness about ill­ef­fects of plas­tic. It is heart­en­ing to note that by and large In­dia has be­come ac­tive in ban­ning plas­tic to­tally. It is how­ever de­plorable that West Ben­gal turns a blind eye when it comes to ban­ning and en­force­ment of the ban on thin film plas­tic. Must be vested in­ter­ests work­ing against the in­ter­est of com­mon peo­ple. Ben­gal is be­hind in sav­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal dan­gers.

The par­tial ban on plas­tic bags that sev­eral lo­cal bod­ies in the coun­try im­ple­mented at var­i­ous stages has fallen flat so far pri­mar­ily due to faulty im­ple­men­ta­tion. Se­condly, the non-avail­abil­ity of fea­si­ble al­ter­na­tives has been dis­suad­ing ad­min­is­tra­tors from opt­ing for a com­plete ban. Cloth is the next choice, though the non­wo­ven bags that pass off as cloth bags in most shops these days are equally or even more dan­ger­ous than plas­tic bags.

Plas­tic bags play a neg­a­tive role in chok­ing the drainage sys­tem. Re-use old poly­thene bags. Make sure you do not burn poly­thene bags as they cause a lot of pol­lu­tion. With so many op­tions, find­ing the right al­ter­na­tive for plas­tic carry bags is a tricky mat­ter and only large-scale aware­ness at the grass root level can en­sure that an­other haz­ardous ma­te­rial does not sub­sti­tute plas­tic.

Though pa­per is the first op­tion, it can­not be counted as an en­vi­ron­ment-friendly op­tion con­sid­er­ing the large-scale de­struc­tion of trees for pa­per pulp and also be­cause they can­not hold much weight. Though re­cy­cled pa­per bags have be­come a trend, com­mon peo­ple may not find them pocket-friendly. Up-cy­cled pa­per bags us­ing news­pa­pers may be used for pur­poses other than pack­ag­ing liq­uid and semiliq­uid prod­ucts.

The third op­tion is biodegrad­able plas­tic that comes in sev­eral va­ri­eties. There are starch-based bio­plas­tics that are sol­u­ble in hot water. There is also com­postable plas­tic that dis­in­te­grates and joins the soil within 90 to 180 days. Plas­tic bags, ther­mo­col, dis­pos­able cups and plates, cut­lery, non-wo­ven polypropy­lene bags, plas­tic pouches and pack­ag­ing are all banned.

NAT­U­RAL MA­TE­RI­ALS

Bam­boo is one of the largest mem­bers of the grass fam­ily and is the fastest grow­ing woody plant on the planet. Its growth rate varies ac­cord­ing to the soil and cli­mate, and is best known as a ma­jor food source for pan­das. Bam­boo is also used for culi­nary and medic­i­nal pur­poses in many parts of the world, as well as for con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, fur­ni­ture, tex­tiles, mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, bi­cy­cles, cloth­ing and more. As a pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial, bam­boo is strong, durable and sus­tain­able. It is one of the most re­mark­able nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als avail­able to us. The Econ­o­mist re­cently quoted that bam­boo is lit­er­ally, the green equiv­a­lent of plas­tics. This, be­cause it is re­new­able and low-car­bon con­tent. It also said bam­boo is now part and par­cel of our pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial.

There are plenty of biodegrad­able and non-pe­tro­leum based plas­tic al­ter­na­tives, but many do not pro­vide the light­weight, dura­bil­ity or con­ve­nience of plas­tics. But, there is one prod­uct that seems to be on the rise as a sus­tain­able and biodegrad­able al­ter­na­tive to plas­tic. Bam­boo fi­bre com­pos­ites are a re­sult of mix­ing bam­boo fi­bre into a poly­mer ma­trix, resins, or glue, re­sult­ing in a light­weight, biodegrad­able plas­tic al­ter­na­tive. The new

pro­cesses used in the man­u­fac­tur­ing of bam­boo fi­bre com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als re­cently be­came more eco-friendly and or­ganic too. The new pro­cess­ing meth­ods are done com­pletely me­chan­i­cally rather than with harsh chem­i­cals. Bam­boo fi­bre also has sev­eral ad­van­tages over other nat­u­ral

BAM­BOO FI­BRE COM­POS­ITES ARE A RE­SULT OF MIX­ING BAM­BOO FI­BRE INTO A POLY­MER MA­TRIX, RESINS, OR GLUE, RE­SULT­ING IN A LIGHT­WEIGHT, BIODEGRAD­ABLE PLAS­TIC AL­TER­NA­TIVE. THE NEW PRO­CESSES USED IN THE MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ING OF BAM­BOO FI­BRE COM­POS­ITE MA­TE­RI­ALS RE­CENTLY BE­CAME MORE ECO-FRIENDLY AND OR­GANIC TOO.

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