We have gone on a tangent of ‘save the Earth, the Earth needs saving!’ But it is a topic that is worth talking about constantly and also worth spreading awareness on. One of the many things that contribute to worsening the state of our planet is plastic. Plastic has done enough damage to the Earth and the ocean and the creatures that live in said ocean.
It is estimated that it takes from 500 to 1,000 years for a single plastic bag to decompose, meaning the plastic bags you use or throw away will outlive you and possibly impact the future generations horribly, although recycling plastic has become more and more common in Egypt and around the world, most of it ends up either in landfills, releasing dangerous gases, or in the ocean where it pollutes marine habitat.
Now, the consequences of pollution are already obvious and apparent along the Egyptian eastern coast, from plastic bags to hotels dumbing waste in the waters, the lack of environmental consciousness is still widespread. Major natural sanctuaries such as Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab and Marsa Alam attract thousands of tourists each year, many of them purchase a lot of things that end up in plastic bags most of the time. These plastic bags are then scattered through the desert and make their way to the water.
Plastic bags look a little bit like a jellyfish, many sea turtles end up feeding on them, blocking their digestive tracts, which eventually leads to starvation and death. Egypt has five of the world’s seven marine turtle species, which is a great deal, and because of pollution, all of them are endangered. So, remember each time you bring a plastic bag to the sea or throw one there, you are contributing in the killing and endangering five out seven marine turtle species. Dark but true!
In all seriousness, it’s not only turtles that are facing the consequences of the bad decisions of the human activities, precious coral reefs are also dying while whales are washing up on shores poisoned from devouring too much plastic. If Egyptians do not take action now, we will lose this sanctuary along with its biodiversity, we have to look towards more Sustainable solutions.
Fortunately, the government along with local communities are not standing silent. This year, the Red Sea Governorate has banned single-use plastic, although we are waiting for it to be implemented in full effect. There are movements such as Bedouin cleanups in South Sinai and Alexandria Turtle and Wildlife Rescue Team are pushing to make a difference.
There’s an alternative to the rising issue of plastic bag pollution is the use of reusable grocery bags, which is underrated. The average reusable grocery bag has a lifespan of more than 700 disposable plastic bags. Studies have shown that one person using a reusable grocery bag over their lifetime would remove around 22,000 plastic bags from the environment. We’re now seeing brands like Urban Earthlings, and also Seoudi is launching fabric shopping bags to avoid plastic bags which is a huge step towards spreading awareness and implementing active solutions.
Ghazala supermarket chain in Dahab has decided to ban plastic from their store. Instead, the chain has decided to provide shoppers with a reusable bag. The Alexandria Turtle and Wildlife Rescue Team is providing people with free non-plastic reusable bags to be used instead.
It’s heartwarming seeing all these efforts and initiatives that are trying to spread awareness against all odds, it would go in vain if the silent majority does not take action to change their daily habits, we need the majority of people to actually see the change. The world is struggling with global warming/climate change, every day we face the consequences of our bad choices, our earth is in danger and we won’t get another planet, we won’t get a redo, we can only save this one. It is time for us to really change and do right by our planet.