Why Jute & Not Plastic


Why Jute & Not Plastic

The use of plastic use is ubiquitous; be it the goods sold and bought at shopping malls or grocery stores, by vegetable vendors or by the ones selling wares in the market, the pervasiveness of plastics is real. Packaging of goods for trade or by e-tailers for their last-mile delivery service is also done in many layers of plastic. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), nearly one million plastic bottles are bought every minute and roughly five trillion single-use plastic bags are used every year around the world. Human dependence on plastics has caused this non-degradable material to permeate every aspect of our lives and leave an indelible imprint in rock records.

Say ‘No’ to Plastic

The rampant use of plastic owing to its availability at marginal costs presents a very dismal picture as our lands and oceans are increasingly riddled with it. From the surface to the very depths, the disposal of single-use plastic is a huge problem. Stressing on how life on the planet is getting increasingly choked on plastic, the Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi urged world leaders in the United Nations Assembly to defy single-use plastics. Considering the repeated appeals by the country’s Prime Minister to minimise and gradually get rid of single-plastic use, the concept of ‘plastic’ may soon be relegated only to our science and history books.

Say ‘Yes’ to Jute

While the world around us is looking for a viable alternative, many Indians have already switched to jute, also known as the ‘golden fibre’ of India. In fact, use of jute bags and other products was par for the course when plastics had not invaded Indian society. Jute is a natural fibre and hence biodegradable. Known for its high tensile strength that explains its durability, the production of jute is highest in India, thus, accounting for its affordability. The production of jute bags does not involve use of any kind of synthetic element or chemical. They are made of high-tensile fibres strung into strong strands. Besides, the inexpensiveness and durability, many reasons underscore the use of jute as a better alternative to single-use plastic. Some of them include:

  1. Zero Dependence on Non-renewable Sources: Plastic involves the distillation of petroleum oil, a non-renewable source of energy. Carbon dioxide is emitted during the production of plastic. Jute, on the other hand, is a natural product that can be grown in small farming spaces. Considering the rampant use of crude oil in the plastic production process and subsequent pollution owing to carbon dioxide, jute is a far more environment-friendly option and easy to cultivate.
  2. Eco-friendly Nature: The decomposition tenure of plastic is prolonged to the tune of 400 years. Besides, its decomposition into microparticles is a major cause of pollution and a consistent threat to animal habitation. When compared, jute decomposes easily and causes zero damage to the ecosystem.

Also, did you know that manufacture of plastic products results in the emission of some of the most poisonous gases deemed hazardous to human health? There is a common tendency in people to burn plastic to get rid of the waste. However, burning plastic results in the release of toxic chemicals and metals into the atmosphere and into the soil. On the other hand, jute absorbs carbon dioxide and releases more oxygen than the trees. According to details shared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, jute plants planted in a hectare of land consume nearly 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide and release 11 tonnes of life-giving oxygen. Besides, cultivation of jute in crop rotations increases the fertility level of the soil, thus, making it ready for the next crop. Also, jute bags when burned do not release poisonous gases.

  1. Long-term Viability: Many people prefer using plastic bags owing to their availability at cheap prices. Though a plastic bag costs no more than 10 paise to manufacture, it is used only once and disposed of. This means that you must pay for the plastic bag every time you wish to pack or buy something. A jute bag costs roughly around Rs 20 and can be used for more than a year, thus, allowing prolonged benefits. Jute bags due to their durability can be used to carry heavy-weight items sans the risk of spillage. The lifespan of plastic bags is comparatively short. Besides, disposing of jute bags is simple as they easily get decomposed in the soil as opposed to plastic bags that take more a hundred years to mix with the soil and sit heavy on our conscience owing to the resulting pollution involved.
  2. Versatility: Other than bags and the common sackcloth used to store grains, agricultural goods and rigid packaging, jute fibre is used to make textiles. Its low extensibility and better breathability explain its increasing use in making fabrics. Apart from that, jute fibres are woven into making carpets, curtains, sofa covers and rugs by blending with other materials, natural or synthetic. When blended with wool, fashion designers create some of the most innovative and experiential designs.

Emphasizing Use of Jute

India is the largest producer and exporter of jute followed by Bangladesh. The clarion call raised against plastic use by Shri Modi on ‘Swachh Bharat Diwas 2019’ has encouraged many Indians to dump use of plastic items, especially, single-use plastic bags and PET bottles. It is estimated that by 2022, India will shun its dependence on plastics, thus, prompting increased use of jute and other natural fibres. Cloth bag makers believe that the demand for bags made of jute blended with cotton or with pure jute in a softer avatar will increase as more people gradually shift their focus to purchase of environment-friendly products.

Moreover, the recent appeal ‘Go Vocal for Local’ in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic is all about preferring to invest in local products while insisting on their large-scale production using cutting edge technology to meet global needs. The government may further the demand for jute products with greater investment while making way for a more efficient supply chain management. The stakes are high for both the economy and environment, thus, necessitating the need to replace the use of plastic products with jute materials.

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