It is already twice the size of Texas and three times the size of France.
That’s a slap on the face of the earth. Marks of which you can view from thousands of miles above in the air.
And the microfibers from the plastic patch can break down to become nanofibers and enter the food chain through fishes. It would pose grave health concerns for us.
But did I cause it?
Am I responsible?
Not really. The plastic found in the patch is several decades old. Maybe you weren’t even born then.
When it was first discovered in 1997, you didn’t even have an ounce of contribution to it.
What can I do about it?
I don’t live near the place. I am not the one dumping plastic there.
But you are continuously contributing to its growth. By using plastic carry bags.
80% of the debris in the patch comes from the land, which predominantly includes plastic bags, bottles, and consumer products.
Is this a rant about asking me to stop using plastic bags? Show me a legit alternative, and I’d stop.
No, this isn’t a rant about the problem of the infamous plastic patch. I have a solution that I wanted to share.
I know you, and I cannot just clean up that patch overnight.
Cleaning efforts are underway.
UN and other international organizations are at it.
But the least we can do is not keep adding to the ocean debris.
And I do have the perfect alternative to plastic: HEMP.
Clearing The Air of Confusion Around Hemp
Hemp isn’t marijuana.
The super crop has faced many legal hassles because of its close ties to Mary J., but it isn’t anything like it.
They share the same plant family, sure. (They are both from the family called Cannabis Sativa)
But hemp isn’t psychoactive. It has less than 0.3% THC (the substance that gives the euphoria-like feel.)
So when you’ll keep your groceries (or anything else) in a hemp bag, it won’t negatively affect them.
And neither will using a hemp bag alter your mental state.
What it will change is the production of plastic waste.
It will be significantly reduced.
And thereby, you’ll be contributing less to the growing Pacific Plastic Patch.
Now changing litigation around the use of plastic — banning it completely or adding a deterrent in the form of a plastic tax — is not under my control.
But I can offer you an alternative in the form of reusable hemp bags. If you can cut down on your polythene usage, among other things, we can work towards a healthier planet.
At Hemp Foundation, we have a range of beautifully designed and carefully crafted hemp bags that not just save the planet from being strangled by plastic but also keep your style quotient high.
Oh, so because you have hemp products to sell, you feel hemp is the solution to Trash Island?
Well, it is the other way round.
Once I saw and understood how much hemp could help the environment, I decided to make hemp products available by growing, processing, and manufacturing these hemp bags and other products.
Why only hemp? Aren’t there other alternatives to plastic?
Yes, there are. But they all come with their own set of troubles. Cotton, paper bags, even bioplastic, nothing is even half as good as hemp.
Don’t believe me?
Read on to find out for yourself.
Cotton Bags — They Are NOT The Answer
People tell me that they are switching to cotton (some even say organic cotton).
“Why?”, I ask.
“Because it is good for the environment.”
Well, that’s not true. Cotton isn’t doing any good for either you or the environment.
- Cotton is a thirsty crop. And 57% of world cotton production happens in areas with water shortage, which further makes drinking water scarce in those regions.
- 7% of world pesticide consumption is for cotton.
- 16% of world insecticides are used for growing cotton.
- Cotton production results in reduced soil fertility, which means more fertilizers are used later.
- 1098 liters of water is used to produce one cotton shirt. For an organic cotton shirt, the required water is 2,500 liters.
Does that seem good for the environment? No, right?
So reusable cotton bags, (even organic ones), aren’t actually good for the environment. Picking cotton over plastic is like going for the lesser evil. But it still is evil.
The Pacific Plastic Patch isn’t our only concern. You need to be mindful of pollution, environmental degradation, and water usage as well.
Also, you will have to use a cotton bag 173 times before it will compensate for the waste that it produces in production, processing, transportation, and end disposal. Not a possible option, you see?
Paper Bags — The Hidden Enemy Of The Environment
Paper? Enemy of the environment? That doesn’t sound right.
Yes, paper bags can decompose within six months of disposal and would most probably make the soil fertile for further vegetation.
But that’s no match to the environmental mess that is created to produce this paper. Also, when paper bags end in landfills, they take longer to decompose. No better than plastic.
Here’s how paper bags aren’t even half as good as they seem:
- Manufacturing a paper bag requires four times as much energy as manufacturing a plastic bag.
- The world’s forests don’t have enough wood to feed the world’s gluttony for paper bags. And once we lose these forests, we lose them for decades.
- The production of paper bags releases a high concentration of toxic chemicals.
- Paper bags are heavier. Thus, they have a higher transportation cost and a higher carbon footprint.
- Paper bags create 50 times more water pollution than plastic. And 70 more air pollutants.
Again, seemingly environment-friendly paper bags aren’t actually helpful. They are strangling the planet as much as plastic. Just in a different way.
Environment lovers and science experts go as long as to suggest that you use reusable plastic bags instead of paper bags.
And yes, you’d have to use a paper bag 4 times to make it worth the environmental damage. Now, I don’t expect paper bags to be able to carry my groceries even twice, let alone four times.
Bioplastics — Perpetuating Same Problems Under A New Name
Bioplastics are made of plant fiber, and their use releases significantly fewer chemicals than regular plastic — +1 for that.
Also, when sent to a composting unit where they can oxidize, they become carbon neutral. This way, they won’t land in the Pacific Ocean, adding to Trash Island.
But that’s only when it actually happens. (How sure are you that you’d be able to send all your bioplastic bags to a composting facility?)
- The production process of bioplastics requires higher amounts of fertilizers and pesticides.
- They need more land space to grow the crops for bioplastics.
- The process that converts the crops into bioplastic requires chemical use, which further increases the release of pollutants.
Does increasing chemical release in the air sound like a logical alternative for cutting down oceanic pollution? To me, it doesn’t.
Biodegradable Plastic — Sounds Fancy, But Fails In Reality
Biodegradable plastic is a petrochemical-based product that is treated with additives to make it decompose faster.
So that does give us a ray of hope that instead of staying in our soil and our oceans forever, biodegradable plastic will decompose and leave the planet clean.
But, wait till you hear this.
When biodegradable plastic decomposes in landfills, it releases methane – a greenhouse that is even more dangerous than carbon dioxide.
So while biodegradable plastic will not reach our oceans and won’t contribute to the Pacific Plastic Patch, it will increase global warming and cause climate change.
Not a beneficial tradeoff.
Hemp — The No-Nonsense Solution
I have shown you what the alternatives do, now let me show you what hemp does.
- An acre of hemp produces as much fiber as two to three acres of cotton.
- One acre of hemp produces as much hemp paper as two to four acres of trees.
- Hemp is a quick-growing crop. Its growth cycle is between 90 to 120 days long.
- Hemp consumes four times as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as trees. The process is called carbon sequestration. Hemp sequesters 1.63 tons of carbon per acre.
- The hemp crop can remove toxins and radioactive elements from the soil.
- Hemp is a rain-fed crop and hardly requires an extra water supply.
- Hemp is a disease-free crop. And it requires no pesticides, insecticides, and weedicides as it is resilient to these threats.
- The deep roots of the hemp crop bind the soil and prevent erosion.
- After harvest, hemp stems and leaves are left in the fields to decompose. And they are so nutritious that they prepare the soil for the next crop.
- Hemp fabric has tensile strength eight times that of cotton, which means it will last longer.
- Bags made of hemp fabric don’t show signs of regular wear and tear and, thus, are good for repeated use.
- Hemp fabric is strong, lightweight, and absorbent, making it suitable for creating sturdy and useful bags.
- Hemp is biodegradable.
- Hemp fabric softens with usage and regular wash. So you can wash your hemp bags and use them for a long time.
- Hemp is antimicrobial and resists mold and mildew. Thus, what you keep in your hemp bag will remain safe.
- Hemp is UV resistant, which means it will keep your belongings safe from the harmful rays of the sun too.
No matter how hard you try to, finding faults with hemp is impossible.
It not just limits plastic usage and prevents addition to the Pacific Plastic Patch, but also does good for the environment in other ways.
If that wasn’t enough, hemp is also becoming a source of income for women in rural areas of the Indian state of Uttarakhand.
And why does that matter?
It matters because women in those villages in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) were left to fend for themselves. The villages were left lifeless, and the women were helpless.
Hemp Foundation’s hemp farms are located in those villages. Women now grow, harvest, process, spin, weave, and stitch hemp fabric. And they also make designer hemp bags that are supreme in quality and style.
With this, they get a means of livelihood, financial independence, and a sense of self-worth.
By choosing our hemp bags you:
- Help reduce plastic use and limit the disposal of plastic in oceans, stopping the growth of Trash Island.
- Help reverse global warming, climate change, and other environmental issues.
- Hemp women in remote villages in IHR live their life with respect and satisfaction.
Still don’t want to switch? Well, I don’t think I can convince you then.
Can Hemp Undo The Damage Or Reduce The Pacific Plastic Patch?
Unfortunately, it cannot.
Hemp bags or anything else for that matter cannot be used to clean the infamous Plastic Island in the Pacific Ocean.
The efforts of international agencies are our only hope. Individually, we can do little to reduce its size. But we can do a lot to stop its growth.
Hemp, as I already told you, is the solution. With the widespread use of hemp in the form of hemp bags, clothes, concrete, and more, we can limit plastic pollution. And thus, put a full stop to the ongoing oceanic degradation.
Take the First Step Today
Change is the need of the hour. Don’t wait for the government to dictate to you what needs to be done. Don’t wait for punitive laws. Take the first step yourself.
Ditch plastic bags. (Make sure you dispose of the stock you have with care.)
Get hemp bags.
Save the ocean and the Earth.