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World Environment Day and its aftermath
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World Environment Day and its aftermath

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While India hosted World Environment Day with the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution” people from all over the country contributed towards the cause. Here are a few excerpts to draw your attention towards the harmful effect caused by one-time use plastic vis-à-vis how to reduce plastic pollution.

Disposable plastic pens pose bigger problem than we think, while we have a few options to make it better, says Lakshmi Menon.

“Of course, plastic rules my life even after spurning it hard but speaking specifically of pens, right at this moment, I admit having 10 plastic pens. Two in my bag (I would like to believe it to be occupational hazard but honestly I can do away with it) and eight sitting pretty in the pen stand at home, at any given point of time. And I am not alone committing this crime. Add numerous people using disposable ballpoint pens and imagine the plastic waste we generate. “

“Reportedly, Americans throw away 1.6 billion disposable pens every year. Disposable pen is a problem bigger than we think and there are a few solutions.”

Pens that grow on trees

Lakshmi Menon’s Pure Living pens are known to be made from recycled paper and are plantable. Called Entree pens and labelled ‘With love’, these pens are handmade by a small group of women that includes her mother, 94-year-old Alzheimer’s afflicted grandmother and differently-disabled ladies from the community. At the bottom of each pen is placed the seed of Agastya (Hummingbird tree) that can be planted any time.

These pens  can be ordered online at Amazon or procured directly from Pure Living by writing to them at 2pureliving@gmail.com. Although there is no limit on quantity but the courier charges will have to be borne by the buyer. “There are around 46 lakh students in Kerala, so you can imagine the amount of plastic going to the landfill, which however can be halted by the use of Pure Living Pens.

Get proactive and say no plastic cutlery, bags and straw. Go a step further and order from restaurants that provide biodegradable container, says Sneha Agarwal

“Ordering in the day’s meal is a convenient option and food is just a click away, but it’s leaving behind more carbon footprint than you think, and contributing to overflowing landfills.”

“Grab a phone, use a food delivery app and click! For many millennials lunch is just a click away, saving them the hassle of morning cooking hassles. While online food delivery industry has enabled easy access to every restaurant, every cuisine, it is also generating significant plastic waste in the city — containers, lids, straws, cups, spoons, covers and seasoning sachets that are left behind in dustbins at homes and offices. In a day or two, these make their way to the heaps of garbage at a local landfill, most of which cannot be processed.”

“Dosa bandis, haleem centres, chaat deliveries, waffle corners and cafés that provide plastic packaging can be replaced with ecofriendly options. Dry items packaged in foil or plastic can be swapped with banana leaves, bagasse containers and newspapers; bamboo and paper straws can be used instead of plastic ones and a shift can be made to biodegradable cutlery. “

While the food delivery sector in India is growing at a rate of 15% per quarter as thousands of orders are placed every single day (according to a report from RedSeer Consulting in September 2017), it’s contribution towards the rising level of waste in a country that lacks proper waste management goes unnoticed.

Environmentalist Heather Koldewey emphasises the need for finding a sustainable solution to protect marine life

Seized of the growing menace of plastic, specially the single-use one, the ongoing World Environment Day 2018 celebrations being hosted by Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in the Capital, started off with the theme “Beat The Plastic”. One of the key speakers on the first day was Heather Koldewey, Head of Marine and Freshwater at Zoological Society of London who talked about marine litter and integrated coastal zone management.

Heather, who is also a National Geographic explorer, has done pioneering work in community-based marine conservation while developing Net-Works, a multi-award winning project that has created a supply chain for discarded fishing nets that are recycled into carpet tiles.

Face to face interaction:

Many see plastic as a necessary evil, what is your take?

“I will not refer to plastic as a necessary evil. Plastic is an amazing material that can be turned into varied forms. It has obviously transformed our transport system, health and the way we live. However, half of the plastic produced annually is single use and that is where the key problem lies. Plastic is going to last for hundreds of years yet our use of the single one lasts only for a few seconds, or few minutes or a few hours. When we term it as evil, it is more or less meant for the single use plastic.”

“The focus of the National Geographic’s initiative PLANET OR PLASTIC is how we reduce single use plastic because its quantum is so huge. NG is leading by example and eliminating plastic cover for its India, UK and US editions.”

Woman walks from Gujarat to Delhi to beat plastic pollution

After walking 1,100 km in 45 days, environmental crusader Rajeshwari Singh reached Delhi on Monday, on the eve of World Environment Day.

Ms. Singh took on the epic journey to spread awareness about the need to beat plastic pollution.

In course of her travel from Vadodara in Gujarat to Delhi, she covered 22 cities in four States. Ms. Singh visited several schools, met members of gram panchayats and also interacted with locals to spread her message of saying no to single-use plastics.

‘Wanted to do something’

Speaking at a press conference organised by UN India, the 32-year-old said, “This year I wanted to do something for Environment Day. It was a coincidence that the theme turned out to be plastic pollution, which is really close to my heart.”

India is the host nation for the 45th World Environment Day.

Ms. Singh said that she did not use any non-reusable plastic during her journey, adding that she had refused to adopt single-use plastic since long.

Actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador Dia Mirza was also present at the press conference.

She emphasized on the responsibility of producers to ensure proper mechanisms to collect plastic waste, and manufacture eco-friendly products.

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