Of garbage and plastic bag alternatives

Bangalore has come a long way since this message I had posted on the ZWM-Blr google group <zwm-blr@googlegroups.com> in Sept 2010, about biodegradable plastic bags.

“About one-and-a-half years ago (meaning in early 2009), at Brigade Millennium Mayflower, we decided to go with green-colour biodegradable garbage bags for chute-disposal of garbage.

After a few months, we discontinued buying the biodegradable bags because –
(1) the garbage truck workers were anyway emptying the plastic bags from the chute and putting the green bags into the ‘plastic bag’ sack for recycling
(2) the bio-degradable bags are more expensive than other plastic bags and since recycling was being done, the bags would not be going to landfills. One of these biodegradable bags we put into a mud pile – just as it would be in a landfill – to see how long it would take to decompose. Today, after these on-line discussions, we just dug up the bag and on this link are pictures of it. This is after about 18 months in a ‘landfill’.

The ‘plastic’ is looking fine. http://picasaweb.google.co.in/arathimy/PlasticBags#  

I also have a biodegradable carry bag used by IKEA stores around the world. It was used by me to store paper indoors. Pictures of this bag are also on the link. It is more than 3 years and it is now that the bag is crumbling in places. 

Info on bio-degradable bags is on this link

All things considered, we would do well by promoting re-usable bags as there can be no substitute for them.”

With segregation at source becoming mandatory, Bangaloreans who have gotten used to dumping anything-anywhere-anytime-anyhow are grappling with their garbage, and plastic bags (both garbage bags and carry bags) are at the forefront in the discussion about convenience vs the environment.

Many see biodegradable plastic bags as a convenient alternative to other plastic bags. But we know otherwise, don’t we? 

Here are the pictures of the Sept 2010 experiment.

Green biodegradable bag 2Sep 2010: Biodegradable garbage bag after 18 months in a ‘landfill’

Sep 2010: IKEA’s 3-year old biodegradable bag

Sep 2010: IKEA’s biodegradable bag crumbling in places – but after years! And this was in a cupboard, exposed to oxygen. Not in an oxygen-deprived landfill.

It’s time to go back to the 1980s. It’s time to go back to our cloth bags and plastic-wire woven baskets when we go shopping. It’s time to relive the joy of separating the green chillies from the French beans before putting them in the fridge. Forget the 40 microns!

As for garbage, it doesn’t need any bagging or lining. It’s time to go back to composting our vegetable peels right in our back yards (or balconies). It’s time to go back to washing out our empty jam bottles and using them for our masalas. It’s time to go back to waiting for the bottle-man-paper to sing out his presence asking us for our old newspapers and cardboard.

Yes, it’s the time to go back 30 years!

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