No plas­tic, yes. We hear, we know, but what do we do?

Consumer Voice - - Editor's Voice - Padma Ed­i­tor

By the time you read this, World En­vi­ron­ment Day 2018 would have passed and you would have heard dozens of world lead­ers, cor­po­rate hon­chos, ac­tivists and other kin­dred spir­its mak­ing speeches and urg­ing the world to take ac­tion and do some­thing about the state of the en­vi­ron­ment. With ‘no plas­tic’ be­ing the theme this year, I thought maybe I too should share a few hard facts that may in­spire some, if not all, of you to do your bit to­wards re­duc­ing con­sump­tion of plas­tic in your daily lives.

Many of you would al­ready know that an or­di­nary plas­tic bag or bot­tle takes not less than 500 to 1,000 years to de­com­pose into smaller pieces, only to then seep down into the soil and re­lease toxic chem­i­cals, which even­tu­ally reach the wa­ter sup­ply and be­come a po­ten­tial cause of cancer. Yes, if plas­tic con­tin­ues to go down the drain, fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will be left with no choice but to drink car­cino­genic wa­ter.

Well, if you do not care much about what­ever may hap­pen af­ter you are gone, then hear this: Your one-time-use plas­tic bags, soda bot­tles, tooth­brushes, stor­age boxes, toys... al­most ev­ery­thing that is made of plas­tic is made from raw plas­tic whose man­u­fac­tur­ing process uses and pro­duces dan­ger­ously toxic chem­i­cals that pol­lute the air that you breathe ev­ery day. The process also uses petroleum fu­els – a scarce nat­u­ral re­source – and con­trib­utes to global warm­ing.

What can you do about it? If you think it is the gov­ern­ment’s job to ban the use of plas­tic and clean the land­fills, man­age pol­lu­tion, etc., and that some­body else will make it all fine, then you may sim­ply not read fur­ther. How­ever, if you think you want to do some­thing but do not know how to, then you just need to start some­where, take baby steps, and en­cour­age your peers to do the same.

You can sim­ply start by say­ing no to poly-bags. Didn’t your grand­mother shop be­fore the ad­vent of plas­tic bags? She did bring things from the mar­ket in her own jute bag or hand-sewn bag. Nowa­days, many fancy en­vi­ron­ment­friendly bags are avail­able and make for a cool state­ment; some even have catchy and in­spir­ing quo­ta­tions printed on them. Just get one and re­mem­ber to carry it to your gro­cer’s. (I just did a random cal­cu­la­tion and re­alised that in the last two years I spent over Rs 6,000 for paid gro­cery bags.)

Then you may move on to keep a check on your pur­chases. You any­way look at qual­ity, price, brand, etc., don’t you? Just add an­other el­e­ment while mak­ing a pur­chase de­ci­sion. Check if there is an al­ter­na­tive prod­uct that is not made of plas­tic. In fact, for stor­age of food, it is ad­vis­able to avoid all forms of plas­tic – it can leech into the food and make it car­cino­genic. Same goes for toys. It is sci­en­tif­i­cally proven that let­ting your chil­dren play with plas­tic can make them vul­ner­a­ble to many health com­pli­ca­tions in fu­ture. I don’t have enough space here to elab­o­rate – you can Google and be sur­prised by what is hap­pen­ing and what all is pos­si­ble.

An­other as­pect that I al­ways prop­a­gate is for all of us to make use of the cus­tomer care email IDs that are manda­to­rily given on the pack­ing of ev­ery prod­uct we buy. Just re­quest the man­u­fac­turer to re­duce the plas­tic in their pack­ag­ing. More the re­quests from cus­tomers, larger the chances of those big com­pa­nies do­ing some­thing about the plas­tic packs, es­pe­cially those pet bot­tles (con­tain­ing bev­er­ages, sham­poos, oils...) that are the big­gest menace along with poly-packs.

Al­though late and def­i­nitely dif­fi­cult (and ini­tially in­con­ve­nient too), all of us need to re­alise that we have to go back to the sim­ple life, one where we con­sume, waste and dump thought­fully.

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