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