To sensitize people about the threat and ill effects of plastic waste at global level United Nations (UN) chose an appropriate theme" Beat Plastic Pollution "to commemorate this year's world environment day. India was the global host for the 43rd edition of this year's event held at New Delhi . The announcement made by PM Modi to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022 is a challenging task but at the same time it is not impossible as well. This move against the use of disposable plastic products will drastically stem the flow of plastics from 1.3 billion people. Will this be a reality by 2022 as is a challenging task indeed ? It should not be restricted to mere announcements but should be an action oriented campaign. While addressing the global gathering in New Delhi Erik Solheim head of UNs Environment programme said that 2018 world environment day has been the biggest and most resonant event ever. Among the highlights from the global celebrations was India's commitment to join UN Environment's Clean Seas campaign, which seeks to turn the tide on marine plastic waste. India has a huge coastline around 7500 Kms which is the 7th longest in Asia. Can India fulfil its commitment vis a vis clean seas campaign ? The experience we have during implementation of Swach Bharat Mission (SBM) especially its Grameen component is very bad. 3 ½ years have elapsed out of Swach Bharat Mission's 5 years campaign, but till date Government has only focused on construction of house hold lavatories in rural areas to counter open defecation. With regard to its 2nd component ie solid and liquid waste management not even 20 % of Indian villages are covered under SBM Gramin's Solid Liquid Waste Management Programme (SLWM). In J&K this percentage is less than 1 % as we have hardly a village where waste management programme has been initiated at Government level. So at a time when there is no basic waste management facility available in Indian villages, Modi's commitment to join global campaign on cleaning Seas sound absurd and pompous.
How to beat Plastic Pollution ?
There was a time when we were not much aware about hazards of plastic waste. I believe most of us are now well aware of the fact that plastic is non bio degradable which remains on earth for hundreds of years. Plastic chokes our irrigation canals , drainage system , water bodies and destroys agricultural land. When we read about plastic waste accumulating at our landfill sites , open plots and water bodies, we have a temptation to know whether we can do anything to address this menace. At a larger scale Governments can play a major role to treat old plastic dump sites through various processes, but at our own level we can make a difference if we follow these important tips :
Carrying a shopping bag :
We have left the habit to carry cloth bags with us, around 20 years back. Irony is that people who have their own vehicles, cars or two wheelers, also have not adopted a habit to keep a cloth bag in their cars or motor cycles that can be uses for shopping. We stop our cars and motor cycles near fruit and vegetable vendors and carry all the fruit and vegetable not only in one big plastic bag , but we carry all the stuff in different plastic bags. We do not hesitate to carry a water melon or musk melon in a polythene bag. We push it inside our car which otherwise could be easily accommodated on our car's backseat without a polythene bag. Cloth bags of good material can be easily carried even in our pockets or laptop bags. I have observed many people carrying bags with them, but when they collect the fruit or vegetable from a road side vendor, they pack the whole stuff in plastic bags and then open the bag's zip and keep it inside. How strange practice is this ? Actually we have a social bond with polythene now which is hard to break. But if we are determined and start reading about ill effects of polythene, I am sure we will get rid of the use of plastic bags. I have been carrying cloth bag with me for quite some time, but I have hardly come across a person who hands over his cloth bag to the fruit seller ? Irony is that I see well educated people, doctors and professors carry all the fruits and vegetables in several plastic bags and then adjust the same on car's backseat ?
Minimize use of plastic in functions :
During our social gatherings especially marriage functions , we unintentionally purchase such a huge plastic material which infact is not needed at all. Except a soft drink bottle , rest of the material is all waste of money and our contribution towards plastic pollution. Why cannot we supply water in jugs in our marriage functions after getting the same from water filters that can be hired during for function ? Why do we need plastic, thermocol or silver foil plates and boxes to serve chetnis , salad , pulaaw and other stuff ? Can't we use copper or steel plates for the same ? What is the need of packing 4 small hand towels in 4 puffy plastic boxes? Why shall the hot Gushtaba be served on a plastic bowl ? Can't we use paper tumblers to drink water during our marriage parties? What is the need to have separate tumblers to drink soft drink and water ? Can't we revive use of clay or copper bowls for distributing curd at marriage parties ? Why only plastic and plastic ?