- Imagery of plastic use in films has normalised it: Dia Mirza
- Actors’ messages of ditching plastic has far reach
- Bollywood has been advocating a plastic free environment
New Delhi: Imagery of use of plastic products in films and advertisements have “normalised” its injudicious usage by people in real life but several engagement forums are being developed to effect reduction of that imagery, UN Environment’s Goodwill Ambassador Dia Mirza said on June 4. The actor-activist also said when iconic film stars and influencers in the film industry refuse to use single-use plastic, “the message goes far and wide”. Interacting with reporters at the UN India Office here, she also lauded the efforts of Vadodara-based activist Rajeshwari Singh, who completed her 1100-km-long journey on foot from Gujarat to Delhi in 45 days on June 4, to spread the message of the “plastic menace” to environment.
The activist told reporters that during her travel, spanning multiple states and several cities, she “did not use plastic bottles at all to drink water”. “When I stopped by at any rest house, circuit house or even hotels to take rest, people would offer me water in bottles, which I just refused, and instead drank from a ‘matka’ (earthen pitcher) or asked to serve it in jugs and glasses. If I had used plastic water bottles, the message would have got diluted,” Singh said. Mirza, a former Miss Asia Pacific in response to a question admitted that use of plastic bottles and straws shown in films, TV shows and advertisements, have in a way normalised, “injudicious” usage of plastic by people in real life.
“But, we (she as goodwill ambassador with the UNEP) are developing several engagements forums, so as to engage with advertising and film industries, to reduce that imagery of plastic on screen, e.g., discontinuing use of straw,” she said. “Such images on screen affect people’s consciousness subliminally. So we are seeking to engage with people in the industry, and soon the audience would see the differences showing in TV sitcoms and ads,”
Mirza later said on the sidelines. The actress-environmentalist, who was appointed the UNEP’s Goodwill Ambassador for India last year, also shared that, whenever she has reached out for support to anyone in Bollywood film industry on the issue of plastic, “I have always received a very positive and overwhelming, yes.” Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said many big movements in history have been led by young people, from anti-slavery movement to civil rights campaign, and the field of environment also has youth, pledging support to it.
“The problem of plastic is big and many tourist sites would be otherwise beautiful but for the presence of plastic waste in and around it… Many animals end up consuming it, cows and camels and we know the case of big chunk of plastic found inside a seabird in the Arctic zone,” he said. UN Resident Coordinator in New Delhi, Yuri Afanasiev emphasised on the efforts needed to increase the circular economy from “9 per cent to 90 per cent” and to have more sustainable policies.
Let us not make the mistake of thinking that the humanity’s use of plastic will reduce with time. There is nothing wrong with a plastic water bottle, problem is labels and caps are not recycled. And, some countries still have not developed a system to collect those products and recycle them, he said. The theme for the World Environment Day this year, which falls tomorrow is — ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.