Environmentalist calls for use of biodegradable materials to safeguard environment

While the world celebrates the Plastic Bag Free Day every July 03 to raise the awareness of the impact non-biodegradable plastic bags and bottles have on the environment, plastic materials are still seen everywhere in Bujumbura town.

Plastic bags and bottles at “Kumase” near Lake Tanganyika

Plastic bags and bottles at “Kumase” near Lake Tanganyika

In the western part of Bujumbura at the place commonly known as “Kumase”, one detects disgusting smells. Channels are clogged up with plastic bottles and bags a few meters from Lake Tanganyika.
The same situation is observed in different places of the city. At the place known as “Cercle Hippique” in Rohero area, there are tons of rubbish with plastic bags and bottles. They can also be seen on the roads in different areas of the city.

Some people ignore the impact of these plastics bags on the environment. Joséphine Nyabenda, a woman aged 40, says she uses plastic bags but adds that she has never thought about their negative impact on the environment. “As they are sold in the markets, I buy and use them like other people”.
Mwamini Irakoze, a fifty-year-old woman met near “Cercle Hippique” says she is aware of the impact of plastic bags on the planet but adds that there is no other alternative as non-plastic bags are not available on the market. “We know plastic bags are non-biodegradable. We have no other alternative but to use them,” she says.

Jacques Nkengurutse, an environmentalist, says, plastic bags ruin the aesthetic beauty of the environment apart from being harmful. “Plastic bags are not biodegradable. All the used plastic containers are seen on the lake or its shores…Moreover, apart from being harmful to the environment, a beach with a hundreds of plastic bottles and bags all around it cannot look attractive,” he says.
This environmentalist calls for everybody’s responsibility to protect the environment against the harmful plastics. “Everyone in general and the government in particular should take their responsibility to protect the environment by shunning the use of plastic materials,” he says adding that decision makers should adopt policies to encourage the use of biodegradable bags and the recycling methods.

He also encourages Burundi to follow the example of some countries that have already banned the use of plastic bags.

The International Plastic Bag Free Day is an opportunity to spread the word that a plastic bag free world is possible and that sound environmental alternatives to single use plastic bags are available so as to build a future free from plastic pollution.