Reducing Use of Plastic Products


By Kyaw Win  (Labour)

Plastic, though a remarkable invention, is however proving to be a source of environmental degradation . International drive to reduce use of plastic products, especially the non-degradable type, is gaining ground around the world.
In Myanmar  the drive to reduce plastic products is gaining ground as well with the concerted efforts of the Government and private environmental preservation agencies. Below are some of the writer’s views to reduce use of plastic products and at the same time enhance local employment.
Across the country, plastic bags used by sellers for ‘packing’ products bought by customers end up in the back lanes, drains or public waste disposal containers. They add to environmental degradation even if finally disposed in waste dumping places. To reduce the use of plastic bags perhaps paper bags could be used instead. Nowadays there are many ‘Journals’ being printed on good quality paper. Perhaps the back date journals could be used to make paper bags of sizes suitable for many small ‘dry’ products  such as medicines, cosmetic articles, and even fried or baked food which should not be packed in plastic bags while hot out of the pan. Making paper bags could be a source of income for ‘home based’ workers if there is a market for such bags. The State/Regional Municipal  authorities could ‘require’ the use of paper bags by shops  selling products which could be  delivered in such paper bags instead of  plastic bags.
As we all know plastic bags are being used especially by poultry, meat and fish sellers in the township or open market places for ‘packing’ such products for the customer. In the ‘old days’ such products were packed in “In-Phets”(large leaves of the “In” trees). It would reduce much the use of plastic bags. However it might need ‘urging’ the sellers to do so by the Municipal authorities.
Most housewives or household helps who do the daily marketing for the kitchen usually use plastic ‘baskets’ for the purpose. Of course such baskets are durable and easy to wash and clean, however when time comes to dispose old baskets, it poses a problem. If only the housewives or household helps would use baskets made of cane or bamboo it would not only be  biodegradable but also promote the basket making rural industries which would provide employment for many.
For shopping in the modern Shopping Centres, it would reduce the use of plastic bags if the shopper used the modern biodegradable and attractive fabric shopping bags now available in any modern Shopping Centre. The shopper should tell the girl at the cash counter to place the articles directly into the shopping bag instead of first placing them in plastic bags unless it is entirely necessary to do so as in the case of damp groceries.
As for use of plastic products in the home, for storage of water it would be better to use the  stainless steel receptacles now available instead of plastic receptacles which as mentioned above, are not ‘environment friendly’. It is also advisable to buy hot soupy food  for taking home in stainless steel receptacles or tiffin carriers of the buyers  instead of using plastic bags provided by the seller. It would be more hygienic and pose no plastic bag disposal problem as well.
Now a days our indigenous lacquer ware Industry is producing lacquer ware which are not only beautiful pieces of art but are also of better quality and durability than in the past. We should encourage use of lacquer ware products in our homes  instead of plastic products for the same utility purpose. After all a handsome lacquer ware  article would be in good taste and be more “presentable” than a plastic or metal article serving the same purpose.  It would also promote our indigenous lacquer ware industry and provide employment for many.
In short we should do everything possible to reduce the use of plastic products in our home and in our daily lives. With regard to the use of plastic products, particularly the non-degradable type, the motto should be “Environment over Expediency”.

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