Home Editorial Single-use plastic choking our planet

Single-use plastic choking our planet

Anuj Kumar Verma

Plastic has become an important; rather inseparable part of our day-to-day life. When plastic was invented nobody could have thought that one day this plastic would chok our environment badly. Only in our country, an estimated 25,000 tones of plastic waste is generated. But 40 per cent of it cannot be collected back and this is the main reason that our drainage system is choked. Water of our rivers also get polluted and big rivers are converting into a bog. To mention few such cases, bad condition of international fame Wular Lake in Kashmir and holy Devak River in Udhampur. Plastic garbage has been the main cause for disturbing aquatic ecosystem, causing soil and water pollution. Many water/ flood channels are choked because of plastic wastes. In our cities and villages, we often see piles of plastic garbage and quit often, cow and stray dogs eat plastic causing numerous health problems for them. Often, the local bodies workers, gardeners and many citizens who are well educated but lack common sense burn plastics in open which create toxic gases harmful for human lungs. Millions of tones of plastics, every year, all over the world is generated but cannot be recycled due to which, plastic garbage is affecting our environment badly. Today plastic is being used in every field in which major portion is that of single-use plastic. In our homes or during travel we use plastic polythene bags, packaged water bottles, soft drink or soda water bottles, plastic packets of milk, plastic bags of rice and wheat, plastic shampoo bottles & pouches, plastic straws, coffee stirrers, plastic disposals, plastic diapers, branded biscuits, cake packs and many more Now, I am going to tell you how these single use plastics affect our environment and also our health. Plastic is a non-biodegradable waste and stays in our environment for hundreds of years. It breaks into tiny particles and releases harmful toxic chemicals in our environment. Such tiny particles get absorbed in the soil and goes down to the water supply/ ground water. Also, a major part of plastic waste is dumped in water bodies causing problems far marine life. According to a recent study plastic was found in guts of 90 per cent seabirds and scientists also claim that by year 2050, fishes in the ocean will have more plastic weight. Micro or nano-micro plastic particles have been found in marine animals and seabirds which are further consumed by humans. Not only marine animals but land animals also eat plastics and face serious health problems. Some micro plastics get dissolved in the air and enter our body thereby causing problems like skin rashes, cancer, bronchitis etc. Plastics not only affect our health but have also made our major cities’ dirty. In addition, our mountains and glaciers could not be saved from onslaught of single use-plastic pollution. This is really very embarrassing, shameful act of humans and a great disrespect to mother nature. Many European countries take help of other countries to dump plastic waste. Dumping of huge piles of plastic garbage has become a serious problem for many countries including India. Micro plastics have been found everywhere in the ocean from sediments on the deepest seafloor to ice floating in the Arctic. On the big ice land of Hawaii, as much as 15 per cent of the sand is actually grains of micro plastic. Local population, there, have become aware of this grave danger and have raised voice against dumping of shiploads of plastic garbage in their country. Many Asian countries like Philippine, Indonesia, Vietnam, China etc. now have started refusing to accept shiploads of plastic trash arriving from America and Europe.
So, now the time has come we should reduce use of single-use plastic, for which people and governments have to work together. First of all, we should stop buying plastic packaged water from market, take a steel bottle/ bamboo or clay bottle with you while in journeys and in office. Demand clean filter water in hotels and restaurants. Plastic packaged water is not a pure and mineral water. This is only a myth. Big companies only pack clean water in plastic bottles and sell it, may be this water is less pure than ordinarily available filtered water. Mostly these water bottles face direct sunlight and the Nano particles of plastics dissolve into the bottles which is very dangerous for our health. Governments should provide clean & filtered water dispensers at public places so that people do not face problems in refilling the bottles. Soft drinks and soda water companies should replace plastic bottles with eco-friendly material bottles. Use bamboo/ paper straws or metal straws instead of plastic straws. Keep reusable bags with you whenever you go to the market. Government agencies need to respond and launch a crackdown on all violators selling or using plastic disposables in bulk. Cooking oil companies should shift back to reusable glass or steel bottles. Like-wise, the wheat flour & rice selling companies should shift back to jute bags, as was being done earlier. In some states of India, the Governments have banned plastic but it should be properly and strictly banned in all states. Drinking water, soft drinks, cooking oils, hair shampoo, hair oils, all such items should be supplied in eco-friendly packing material.
The government should improve the quality of tap water so that people drink only tap water and avoid packaged drinking water. Sincere and well- coordinated efforts made by citizens government and industries can make India free of menace of single-use plastic. We all, together, need to minimize use of single use plastics in our day-to-day lives, if we want to save this world for our next generations.

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