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Government Gazette

Say no to polythene, yes to nature

Polythene which is a recent invention of the industrialisation seems to be a close friend who helps us in a number of ways causing no harm.

The main product of it the shopping bag or the shopper is a darling of everyone. Its featurs are not found in other traditional bags. It is colourful, flexible, light, smooth, thin and importantly cheap.

Therefore all these attractive properties helped it make a major revolution in the field of packaging and wrapping compelling every Tom Dick and Harry to pick this bag for their shopping purposes saying a strong no to then use of the traditional bags such as reed bags, jute bags, paper bags, cloth bags, leather bags, coir bags and mesh bags.

Shopping bags

Polythene bags

However it took no longer to see the true nature of the shopping bags as they were condemned to be a source of trouble in terms of environment, health, agriculture, habitation marinelife and the like.

Scientists and researchers through their experimentations and surveys have revealed that the shopping bag is a menace that causes severe threat to the peaceful life of human beings or for that matter the other living beings such as animals and plants. Therefore it is high time a restriction on the shopping bag was implemented.

Everybody knows that shopping bag has a dominance over other bags when packaging is done since it is very cheap.

But, unfortunately we have forgotten it’s ill effects as we are attracted towards its cheapness.

Why shopping bag is harmful?

There are a number of ill effects, that are caused to the society due to the use of shopping bags.

According to the report of Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ) that leads a war against plastic carry bags, plastic is not biodegradable and releases harmful dioxin into the air.

It also warns that people who work in plastic industries are at a greater risk for cancer and other diseases.

The most dangerous feature of plastic is its toxic with black coloured polythene bags the worst offenders.

Plastic is also a threat to our environment. Discarded plastic is an urban nightmare. Discarded plastic bags such as shoppers are a notorious clogger of sewage lines and drains simply they are non biodegradable.

Think of the situation in slums and shanties where they cause clogging and pollution.

An enemy

Polythene is an enemy of human habitation as it is harmful during floods. The smooth flow of water get stopped along canals and drains as it becomes a source of clogging.

The city of Bombay and some cities in Bangladesh have banned polythene bags as they choked the drainage system during flooding.

We too face a time of unpleasantness and irritation when the floods hit the low lying areas.

Such as Colombo. Our canals and water ways that carry dirty water fails to move even at a snail’s pace, since shopping bags get entangled with wood stone and other refuse.

One may think recycling is a solution to curb this issue.

Can practically these thinner bags give a good earning to the parties that hopes to get engaged in such industries? As they are uneconomical authorities concerned can encourage such parties by giving some financial support and other assistance.


One may think that the danger of the plastic can be overcome by burning it as we do with other types of rubbish.

As it is non biodeg radable the remainings of the burnt polythene will remain in the land forever. Scientists say it takes thousands of years to compost. Therefore lands become infertile when polythene is dumped in our gardens.

The marine life faces a disaster due to the dumping of items of polythene.

Sea creatures find it as a harmful item that disturbs their normal life.

Today Sri Lankans covering the areas such as the environment, health, habitation and so on.

Before coming to the main issue, I am of the opinion charging a few bags is not a solution for the problem.

Therefore authorities concerned should find concrete ways and means to control restrict or even ban shopping bags whose ill effects outweigh the merits.

Boom for the cottage industry

The bag industry which was one of the components of cottage industry can get back its right place if a restriction is implemented on the shopping bag.

A large number of villagers will get a good income if the bag industry gets a revival.

The only step the authorities should do is to implement a restriction.

The Government can also give a helping hand in the form of loans to such manufacturers so that they start making traditional bags which are eco friendly. Banks, private firms and the NGOs can extend their cooperation to the Government for such promotional projects of cottage industry.

Therefore it is crystal clear everybody should work hard to put an end to the menace of shoppers thus paving the way for the boom of the cottage industry which causes no harm to nature.

The shopping malls and other shops should think of taking steps to keep eco friendly bags, available at their business. A decent price should be fixed for such items.

Then, people will definitely buy them for packing. Incentives, concessions and gifts can be offered to consumers who buy such bags when they do their shopping.

So it is apparent that the new strategies can help in no small way to put an end to the menace of polythene.

I think it is apt to know the background that forced Sri Lankans to start using the shopping bag or shopper which is popularly known as the “sili sili bag” by Lankan consumers.

Traditional lifestyle

Indeed, the opening of the economy of Sri Lanka by the Government of J.R. Jayewardene in 1977 made a major revolution as it paved the way for opening the flood gates of importation of goods ranging from essentials to luxuries.

Thus polythene made its entry into our motherland. The consumer population of Sri Lankan readily rejected their old friends the nature friendly traditional bags that were found to be obsolete, heavy, clumsy and expensive.

The shopping bags which is very inexpensive thus became inseparable from the masses.

The aroma of the banana leaf that adds to the meal packets is no more as the lunch sheet has crept into the kitchen of our houses.

The vegetarian hotels that served dishes on banana leaves have replaced them, with plates of silver.

Therefore it is obvious polythene has taken us for a artificial life which harms nature in many ways.

Shouldn’t we take steps to get back to our traditional way of life that gives us content and pleasure.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
srilankans.com - news & information
Ceylinco Banyan Villas
LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka
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