Polythene has become a big part of our lifestyle in the recent past.
If you were to walk in to any Sri Lankan household there is a high chance that you would find a bag filled with polythene bags in the kitchen; a sight that many of us are familiar with.
The shopping bags we get are often used to help us carry things.
If you were to visit a company lunchroom during the lunch hour you would most probably see employees unwrapping their lunch sheets or opening rigifoam boxes before they tuck in to the rice and curry within.
So when the Government announces that polythene lunch sheets, rigifoam boxes and shopping bags are to be banned from September 1, one would expect that it would be quite difficult to get rid of something that has become such a reliable, dependant and almost essential part of our lives.
Thus The Daily Mirror set out and spoke to pedestrians going about their day to inquire about how prepared they are for the polythene ban.
What we found out was that although people thought the reduction of the use of polythene is a good step taken, the alternatives that are available at present are insufficient to non-existent.
Many of them aired the view that it is the Government’s duty to ensure that more environmentally friendly alternatives be made available in the market.
‘A correction needs to be made regarding the situation we face’
-Viraj Priyan (35) Ragama
It’s obviously a good thing to ban polythene and there are alternatives such as paper. We would have had to do this.
We have to rectify the situation that has culminated to what it is today. But we have to use the correct process and there has to be a proper plan. Where I come from, the garbage isn’t collected nor is it put on a side. Right now there isn’t a proper system in place.
In addition to this, polythene is a big industry and generates a lot of money. I myself was in this industry. In the recent past we have started to collect plastic and polythene and put it through a process of recycling.
You observe in bus halts and train stations how plastic and polythene items, that are thrown away, have accumulated.
This is because there is no place to dispose them. Steps to reduce the use of such items should have been taken earlier. If this was done there wouldn’t have been such a problem. After observing the issues associated with the polythene and plastic, I stopped working in the industry recently and found employment as a PLC.
‘Plastic was something that came recently, we didn’t have it those days.
- Dhiyawansa (57) Colombo
It’s a real problem and a nuisance to prepare for such a thing. Because there is no place to keep the plastic. Sometimes it isn’t collected, so some of us end up burning it although it is very harmful to the environment.
Those days this problem didn’t exist because we never used polythene. We used paper, cloth and other decomposable material. Polythene is a recent product and it has caused so many problems for us and the environment.
‘It is a good practice to stop using polythene’
-Rohana (35) Nuwara Eliya
It would be a good practice to stop using polythene. As of now, people are just throwing their trash on the road.
Nowadays you don’t see people maintaining discipline; they are just throwing their rice packets and lunch sheets on to the road. Then the garbage collects in mounds and contributes to the spread of dengue.
Practically we don’t see any alternatives to the issue right now.
‘There isn’t a problem because I have other options at my disposal’
-Ahmed (47) Malwana
I am more or less prepared for this because there are other things you can use such as cloth, papers and banana leaves.
All these are decomposable things. For me there is no problem.
‘Our country can benefit from this’
-Rohitha Perera (49) Panadura
It is a good move. There are other alternatives such as paper and other decomposable materials that we can use. This is something that our country needs. It isn’t only for the Government, it is good for all of us.
‘There aren’t any immediate alternatives that are available at the moment’
-Chamika (35) MOUNT LAVINIA
This is a really important step taken especially for our country. The problem is that the availability of lunch sheets and shopping bags is so high that it has become a part of our lifestyle. However alternatives like lunch boxes and hotpots aren’t widely available.
There are very few alternatives available to us. A few days ago I went to buy one of those lunchboxes, but I couldn’t find a proper one. And to carry that around is another problem. You can even use banana leaves, but are these leaves available everywhere? I am not well prepared for this, but we will have to be prepared when the time comes.
‘Practical problems can surface from what is viewed as a good solution’
-Jeevani Fernando (32) Moratuwa
The main problem is the absence of a proper way to recycle plastic. There is no solution for this main problem.
And practically speaking there are no alternatives. We will have to move to things like banana leaves and cloth bags, but are those things so easy to find? I’m not prepared for this change.
There are so many practical problems that come with this. And to carry lunch boxes and lunch baskets along with our handbags is another issue for us. It is a good step, but the change brings along with it a fair share of problems.