The increase in quantum of solid waste is proportional to an increase in population, developmental activities, changes in lifestyles and socio-economic conditions. Plastic waste generation in India amounts to a significant proportion. As per a report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) 56 lakh tonnes account for plastic waste or about 9% of the total waste (62 million tonnes) India generates in a year. Believe it or not but India is one the world’s biggest plastic polluters as nearly 40 per cent of its plastic ends up either in landfills or water bodies.
While countries like France, Rwanda, Sweden have brought in strict laws banning all kinds of plastic usage and Kenya is imposing world’s toughest law (imprisonment of up to four years or fines of Rs 25 lakh for purchasing, selling or using plastic bags, India is yet to bring in a central law on the same. At present states have their own laws on plastic bags after the National Green Tribunal suggested a ban on disposable plastic like cutlery, bags and other plastic items.
It may take time for our laws to get in place, but till then it is our responsibility to reduce plastic addiction cutting, and it doesn’t imply cutting convenience; it just means making conscious choices alternatives to plastic.
Enacting laws and then enforcing these are one end of the spectrum, but the most important aspect is eliminating plastic or atleast cutting down its consumption. Here are five ways to say no to plastic in daily life:
1) BYOB- An Environmentally Sound Slang
BYOB basically stands for ‘Bring Your Own Bag’. Hold habits die hard , but make a switch to alternatives like cloth bags, jute bags or eco-friendly bags made out of natural starches and vegetable wastes instead of plastic bag, whenever you visit the kirana shop or a vegetable market. Stash away reusable bags in your house, cars for it’ll come handy without having to pay extra for a carry bag. Save your planet from choking.
2) Throw A Plastic Free Party
The world is a victim of ‘use and throw’ cheap plastic cutleries when it comes to occasions like birthdays, anniversary parties, and so on. Plastic spoons, plates, cups, bowls, glasses are usually bought in bulk as these are dirt cheap and add to the pile up of non-biodegradable trash in our trenching grounds after being discarded. Replacing plastic cutlery with paper has its own set of environmental issues like cutting down of trees. Instead go the traditional way and use banana leaves to serve food, use steel glasses, bowls and spoons or simply serve finger foods that don’t require utensils.
3) Break Away From The Shackles Of Plastic Packaging
Foods packed in plastic materials are a major concern environmentally and health wise.Here are few examples on how to avoid plastic containers or bags –
– When buying fruits or vegetables loose items can be picked up rather than pre-packed or pre-chopped ones .
– Use one’s own container when buying any kind of meat or while opting for a take away from the restaurant
– Choose milk in returnable glass bottles instead of plastic or plastic-coated packs.
– Request for zero plastic packaging when ordering online.
4) Switch From Bottled Water
According to a report cited by the Guardian, nearly 38.5 million plastic bottles are consumed every day all over the world, accounting for roughly 40 per cent of plastic litter in our environment. Plastic bottles take 450 years to decompose. Always carry a bottle or a glass jar and refill it whenever possible. Italy has set an example by installing water refill stations in many places where water is available at cheap rates.
5) Stay Away From ‘Use And Throw’ Plastics
Pens, containers, straws, pill bottles, yogurt cups, ketchup pouches, etc are items which are used only once and then discarded. Though these items may seem insignificant, these may take anything from 6 months to 10 years to decompose. However, good news is that smart choices can be made and each of these items replaced without hampering day to day functions or drastic changes to lifestyle.