THE Ocean Conservancy reported that the Philippines is one of the top sources of plastic trash dumped into the sea, contributing 2.7 million metric tons of plastic waste and half a million metric tons of plastic-waste leakage per year.
This disheartening news. The worsening issue of pollution further aggravated by natural hazards should serve as our wake up call. There must be a more stringent regulation on the use of plastic bags to curb pollution and mitigate the harmful effects of marine litter, according to environment champion Sen. Loren Legarda. We agree.
Plastic bags end up as litter, clogging drainages, polluting waterways and even endangering marine animals, human health, and ecosystem. These litters, when dumped into the sea, take decades to decompose. Plastics can poison marine species and damage marine ecosystems, and it can affect us humans through the seafood that we eat.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, over 80 percent of marine pollution comes from land-based activities. From plastic bags to pesticides – most of the waste produced on land eventually reach the oceans, causing marine mammals, seabirds and fish to die each year from being entangled in or ingesting marine litter.
We have relied so much on the oceans for our existence – for food, for livelihood, for energy, and for recreation. However, our throwaway culture and rapid population growth along with unsustainable marine practices such as overfishing, waste dumping, oil spills, among others, have seriously damaged marine habitats and life in the sea over the years.
The proposed Plastic Bags Regulation Act (Senate Bill No. 430) of Senator Legarda aims to strictly regulate the production, importation, sale, and use of plastic bags. This measure discourages the use of plastic bags and encourages the use of native reusable bags made of organic or recycled materials, and reusable containers made of glass or non-toxic and non-hazardous materials.
There are numerous alternatives to non-biodegradable plastic bags. We have our baskets, bayong, eco-bags, paper bags, cloth bags or katsa, bags made of recycled tetrapacks, and many others. We just have to be innovative and resourceful in finding substitute packaging materials or containers.
The Earth will not just heal on its own without any effort on our part to stop marine pollution. It is our primary responsibility to protect and preserve our environment to mitigate the worsening effects of ecosystem degeneration because failure to do so will endanger not only the environment but also our lives.