Selasa, 03 Januari 2012

Plastic Paradise


Versus this scene in 1972

No jet skies, no beach chair mafia, no plastic bags.

And I was 20 years old, so no grey hair or midriff spread either.

Thirty years ago the Old Roue visited Jomtien for seaside romance with a bargirl from Walking Street. “It was sunrise. The sea was gin-clear and little fish were jumping from the water. It was magic.”The ensuing decades have been rough on the Pattaya and its sister beach resort, as the fishing villages have been transformed into gigantic money machines carpeted by cookie-cutter villas and cloned condo blocks offering paradise on Earth. The Old Roue hasn't seen Jomtien in a long time, but for several years I attempted the Sisphysian task of cleaning the beach in front of me, for every high tide deposited beer bottles, oil containers, fishing lines, shiny candy wrappers, and plastic bags onto the sloping shoreline. At low tide I harvested the trash into sea-worn rice bags. Within a half-hour the sand was devoid of any human refuse and I could smugly regard the pristine strand with pride.

While tourists rolled their eyes in disgust at my ecological efforts, the Thais from the beach cafes congratulated my work without ever breaking caste to aid my task. Such labor was beneath them and from under a parasol my girlfriend expressed her embarrassment at my caste-breaking effort.“Tomorrow have plastic again. Every day have. You stop nothing.”They were right and none of them made an effort to stop using plastic bags or throwing them in the trash. Plastic bags are everywhere, as if the manufacturers were trying to seal the world in its product. The inventor of the plastic bag was a Swede, looking for a practical use for in the cellulose film produced by his company. Its monopoly was broken by Mobil Oil in 1977 and soon grocery stores replaced the paper bag with plastic.At present approximately one trillion plastic bags are sold each year. 7/11 customers in Thailand love their plastic bags and any suggestion that the ubiquitous package be abandoned by consumers has been met with resistance by the manufacturers, however countries such as Bhutan, Bangla Desh, and South Africa have a complete ban on plastic shopping bags and Ireland imposed a tax resulting in a 90% reduction in their use. I carry a cloth bag on my travels.It's a small step in the right direction.But one day the day of the plastic bag will come to an end, as governments realizes its true cost to the environment.Hopefully the Earth will not be in a condom on that day.

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