“Zero Borla” fashion and music: an event to campaign against single use of plastics in Ghana Featured

The world is producing over 300 million tonnes of plastic every year, 50 per cent of which is for single use, meaning it can be used for just a few moments but lasts several hundred years.

 

Packaging is the largest end-use market section, which accounts for over 40 per cent of total plastic usage. Annually, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide with more than a million bags used every minute, yet each bag has an average usage span of 15 minutes.

Plastic bags are not the only problem: 100.7 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in the United States in 2014, 57 per cent of those being plastic water bottles. Over the years, the numbers have gone up worldwide.

 

Big impact

Plastic is a valuable resource in many ways, but its poor use leads to plastic pollution. Plastic pollution is very real: though single-use plastics can be small, they have a large impact.

With these statistics and effects ever growing, certain countries have taken initiatives towards reducing the production of plastics, especially single-use plastics, while other countries have banned them outright.

Rwanda became one of the first nations worldwide to ban plastic bags in 2006. The law was fully implemented in 2008. People caught or reported for trying to import plastic bags into the country face penalties such as fines and jail time.

Senegal joined years later. More than five million plastic bags were recorded in litter on the nation’s streets and beaches before its 2015 ban on plastic bags. By 2017, 15 African countries in total had introduced policies to restrict plastic shopping bags, including Tunisia and Cameroon.

Wash Africa, the force behind the Zero Borla Fashion and Music event, is one of many organisations in Ghana campaigning for ban of single-use plastics. It believes Ghana should follow the Rwandan lead, despite the government’s decision to shelve a ban on plastics.

Why ban single-use plastics?

The Zero Borla event was held at Zen Garden in Labone, Accra, with the intention of raising awareness of the negative impact of single-use plastics in the country. It featured Ghanaian designers and upcoming artistes, showcasing products made of plastic materials.

To Wash Africa, Ghana is better off banning single-use plastics than adapting waste management methods to recycle them, considering how poor waste management systems in the country are.

More than eight million tonnes of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year and by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic than fish. Studies have also found that tiny particles of plastic are already in our food chain and the average person who eats seafood ingests 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic every year.

This is because plastic items are commonly mistaken for food by animals, especially when the bags carry food residues, brightly coloured or animated by the movement of water.

Large numbers of animals, both land and especially marine, choke to death on bags, experiencing much pain and distress. If swallowed whole, animals may not be able to digest real food and will die a slow death from starvation or infection.

In addition, plastic bags are a highly visible, ugly component of litter. If plastic bags continue to be used, the number of bags littering Ghana’s marketplaces and cities will only increase over time.

Besides destroying aquatic species, a plastic material has more than three times the greenhouse gas impact of a reusable green bag. Therefore, the production of plastics contributes greatly to climate change.