I will prefer my birthday gifts received in black polythene bag …

By | July 21, 2015

Feature Article of Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Columnist: Lumor, Shalom Abla


…. to biodegradable bags if only…………………..

Yes I am a Journalist but dating Waakye seller at the Kpone Barrier, my sweet heart Kojo tries very much to show me maximum love and appreciation because of his job, he is half educated which they say is very dangerous.
He buys me nice gifts but brings them in a black polythene bag. To him, its waste of resources to spend huge amount on the container than the content. He buys perfumes, panties brassieres, ear rings all from his customers who faithfully patronized his sumptuous Waakye.
Unfortunately the vendors doesn’t sell gifts bags alongside their goods.
Kojo will always tell me stories surrounding the gifts he bought for me anytime he knocks at my door happily to deliver the gifts.
The latest one was, “Eiiiiii baby could you believe, the perfume seller asked me to get GH¢5.00 gift bag for the GH¢8.00 perfume? This is total nonsense” I replied with a smile because the look on his face shows that he is definitely angry at the seller.
My level of education makes me belongs to another world different from Kojo’s. But I can’t just leave him because he doesn’t seem to follow the trend or belongs to my circles.
Kojo loves me very much, and I love him too. One day Kojo surprised me with a GH¢50.00 perfume nicely wrapped and handed to me in a gift bag worth GH¢20.00 I kept that gift bags for months until my cousin stole and gave it to his girlfriend as a gift since he can’t afford.
When I asked Kojo how come he got such an expensive perfume with the gift bag, he told me he won GH¢500.00 lotteries, and decided to change his taste about the things he tries to get for me.
That was when I realized that Kojo will one day buy me more expensive gifts if his economic level changes or may be Kojo has decided to cut his coat according to his size I guess.
The issue on the round table discussion recently is about the temporary banned of black polythene bag and switched over to biodegradable plastics.
With my few journeys around the 10 regions of Ghana, I have noticed that, majority of Ghanaians patronized the black polythene bags because it’s affordable, cheaper and easily disposable.
When manufacturers recently agreed to be producing plastic products which can decompose and degrade and mix with the soil after few months or years, thereby reducing the menace they pose on the environment, the first question that came in to mind was whether the degradable plastics will be affordable and available to all. Are we going to have issues with these degradable plastics?
Is the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) and stakeholders in the plastic industry ready to help provide measures to dispose of these plastics?
Because my little research about degradable plastics shows that, these plastics can only degrade under certain certified conditions.
However, doing away with the waste plastic bags will be one of the biggest success that this country can achieve, should the government take this bold initiative and ban the manufacture and use of plastic bags in all shapes and forms.
Our water bodies such as the Odor River, several lakes and even the sea have been taken over by plastic with their side effects on aqua culture and ultimately the reintroduction of plastic into the food chain.

Our recent flood and fired disaster can be credited to choked drainage system with a large portion of the waste passing through them as plastic. Properties worth millions of cedi and lives are lost every year due to these floods.
Most importantly however is the fact that plastic bags are largely used as fecal matter carriers or waste bins, dumped into drainages systems and our water bodies.
I could remember 9 years ago when I was teaching in private school as a pupil teacher in one of the towns in the Volta Region. As a class two teacher teaching my children environmental studies, I asked the class where we ease ourselves, and a 6 year old beautiful and brilliant girl gave me an answer which surprised the whole class. She said “madam madam, we ‘pupu’ at the kitchen”
The whole class laughed, and she broke into uncontrollable tears. My discussion with the girl revealed that, what she was saying was true.
Since she is still young her mother always helped her to ‘pupu’ in the black rubber bag at the kitchen behind the firewood’s which will be disposed of by her elder sister later in the evening.
The girl actually took the issue serious to the house and reported to her sister how the class laughed at her in shame. Her sister later came to the school to explain to me why the girl refuse to come to school because of that issue and at the same time refuse to ‘pupu’ in the rubber bag and at the kitchen precisely. Till today I am a still a friend to her family. My pretty girl is now in Senior High School One.
As a country, we have to work towards providing the alternative means to replace the use of the black polythene bags especially in the rural areas. We must provide more safe toilets, more alternative means of wrapping and selling of food items.
If we will switch to paper bags, then it must be available and affordable and even cheaper than the plastic bags.
However the problems associated with biodegradable plastics must also be put into considerations.
Biodegradable plastics do have some drawbacks. For example, they do not decompose unless they are disposed of properly, meaning that biodegradable plastics must be treated similarly to compost. The natural breakdown of the plastic will not occur if it is simply tossed in a landfill with other trash. This is something that concerned citizens will need to be mindful of. Some scientists also suggest that greenhouse gases are locked within the plastic and are released into the atmosphere when composted.
However, everything used in the production of biodegradable plastic is natural. As such, these plastics do not contain the harmful chemicals and materials that traditional plastics do.
Some biodegradable materials do contain small pieces of metal. There is concern that when biodegradable plastics break down, those metals will be released into the environment. However, to date there is no evidence of that causing any significant issues.
The benefits would seem to outweigh any potential drawbacks, but the question of whether or not biodegradable plastics will someday replace traditional plastic is still a matter of debate.
So I can only accept the gifts from my boyfriend if only it won’t put much pressure on him.
Shalom Abla Lumor
Shalom Abla Lumor is a Freelance Journalist in the Volta Region.