Sustainability over everything – Beating plastic pollution across the globe
Did you know plastic production has been growing at an average of 8.7% every year?
From a production of 1.7 million tons in the 1950s to about 300 million tons being produced every year, it has become one of the fastest growing industries in the global arena.
Isn’t it a matter of concern for us?
Yes, it is!
A hero or a devil in disguise?
Plastic, despite its many cons, has had its share of benefits over the years. It has proved to be an increasingly versatile material, being used by all of us because of being light-weight, corrosion-resistant, cheap & strong.
However, the use of plastics has incessantly resulted in environmental degradation. It contains chemicals, which migrates to the environment, eventually affecting us and our ecosystem. Major ailments like cancer or birth deformations are linked to it. It is this ‘use and throw’ activity of us that has also resulted in an omnipresence of piled-up plastic in the oceans, landfills and all other places. Even, food containers made of plastic can contain chemicals, which can mix with food and enter our systems.
What do we do then?
Use of alternative eco-friendly products can be a step to reduce plastic pollution. Alternatives like glass, grocery bags made of paper, eco friendly food packaging like corn starch cutlery, corrugated or paper boxes etc. can be used.
Although all plastic cannot be recycled, recycling of plastic contributes to energy usage reduction. The energy saved can have other uses like generating electricity via a Waste-to-Energy Plant. Even energy from waste incineration can contribute in recovering the calorific value of plastic, which can be put to other uses. Thus, these may contribute to plastic sustainability which will further help in reducing plastic pollution, water and air pollution, reduced spaces taken up by landfills etc.
Change begins at home…office…anywhere! You just need to start now!
In India itself, a number of measures have been taken up to reduce plastic pile-up. Cleanliness campaigns like the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan has focussed on cleaning up the streets in both rural villages and urban towns. Sikkim became the first state in India to achieve the status of plastic bag free, it was the first state to ban plastic bags in 1998.
Similarly, in Mumbai, lawyer and environmentalist Afroze Shah along with his neighbour started the Versova beach clean up drive in 2015, and has succeeded in removing more than 7.2 million kg of plastic from the Versova beach. Shah’s act inspired clean up drives of other beaches in Mumbai, the latest being the clean up of the Dadar Beach led by a Thane-based NGO Aarna Foundation.
India steps forward to Beat Plastic Pollution
This year, India is the global host for the World Environment Day, the theme being “Beat Plastic Pollution” with an aim to increase awareness among citizens of the world, old and young so as to contribute to environmental sustainability focussing on preventing plastic pollution.
Many other countries have stepped up too!
Many countries have already taken the initiative to ban plastics completely.
In 2002, Bangladesh became the first country in the world to ban thin plastic bags due to reasons of drainage clogging which led to flooding in rainy seasons.
Countries like Kenya, Mali, Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Morocco, South Africa, Rwanda, Botswana have either banned or imposed taxes on use of plastic bags. European countries like England, Italy, Wales, Scotland and Germany currently have similar measures in place. In the United States, measures are in effect in some states like California, New York, Seattle, Hawaii, Washington D.C. , Rhode Island, Maine etc. South America includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Columbia whereas in Asia, we have China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan having bans or fines in effect on the use of plastic bags.
Let’s be the change to Beat Plastic Pollution!
The initiative taken up by Afroze Shah and others proves that change begins at home only, we may start alone but the world will join us later. As citizens of our country, we are also responsible for bringing in the positive change to sustain our environment. We can also inspire change if we want to, and for that we need to act now.