Saturday, December 01, 2007

Of Garbage and Plastic Bags

I applaud the Ministry of Environment’s plan to completely phase out the use of plastic bags in Jordan; their reasons are valid and overdue (Jordan Times, Friday-Saturday November 30, 2007). We can take home groceries and other items that we buy in paper bags, baskets, cloth bags, or boxes – this isn’t a big problem. In fact, it will not be difficult to make the change. Disposing of the layers of packaging that many of our purchases come in is not a problem either. They may be bulky, but they are dry and easily manageable. However, getting garbage out of our homes is another matter.

When I was a child, plastic bags didn’t exist. Every morning my mother wrapped the wet garbage - coffee grounds, orange peels, and egg shells from the morning’s breakfast - in yesterday’s newspaper and took it out to our garbage can in the back alley. This can wasn’t lined and after the garbage was collected, someone, usually Mother, hosed the empty can and cleaned it with Lysol. Not a pleasant job, but a necessary one then. Now most homes have two or more garbage cans for collection because refuse must be separated for recycling. Many homes today have garbage disposal units connected to their kitchen sinks. As useful as this appliance is, it is a luxury for Jordan. Here, we put wet garbage in plastic bags and place them in the dumpsters on the streets.

The Ministry of Environment must offer alternatives for garbage disposal. Either import only biodegradable plastic bags and/or offer a safe, sanitary, and convenient method for us to get rid of our garbage. Maybe some company can recycle paper into corrugated sheets that will absorb enough liquid so that we manage to get our garbage outside without dripping it all the way to the dumpster. There are answers out there, and we need to find a few before we ban plastic bags.



Blogger MommaBean said...

Interesting. It's funny, this reminds me of the paper vs plastic debates that went on the US for may years before plastic won out (convenience I think). When you think about all of the energy required (and the trees, my goodness the trees, maybe THAT's what's happening to those trees in the post before this one), I'm not sure paper is the best choice for Jordan. And, of course, wet trash is a very large issue. We reuse the plastic bags in our bathrooms and I hate to think what we will do without them. But I guess one adjusts. I do think that for those of us who end up with 2 carts of bagged groceries every week, reusable is less than fab. Oh, and the biggest issue with paper is that I doubt they'll be recycling them either reducing the benefits significantly. Thanks for the heads-up and this will be an interesting thing to see.

Saturday, December 01, 2007  
Blogger Dave said...

What? And be rid of the "Jordanian tumbleweeds" that grace our roads and highways?

Saturday, December 01, 2007  
Blogger joladies said...

ASH quite right, certain things need to be put in place before a blanket ban. But mommabean is right about the trees, the trees! Interesting web site which shows how plastic bags can be degradable. How would I dispose of my garbage without the black bin bag!!!? Even London is now planning to get rid of the plastic bag. T

Saturday, December 01, 2007  
Blogger Qwaider قويدر said...

This is just another one of those items that are blabbered without calculating all the consequences.
For example, saving the environment shouldn't come as an imposed law. Its people feeling responsibility towards their children!
It will only take one rumour (Black plastic bags cause male impotency) to get everyone back to using ANYTHING but plastic bags. But what about the garbage? There really isn't any good alternative (but the biodegradable plastic aka. EXPENSIVE) bags.

This whole matter needs more study and better planning. Just tooting it will not make it better

Saturday, December 01, 2007  

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