Combating plastic crisis with eco-friendly alternatives

Combating plastic crisis with eco-friendly alternatives

Combating plastic crisis with eco-friendly alternatives

Rahul Bhandari, IAS

In India, nearly 40% of plastic waste is neither collected nor recycled. It ends up polluting the water supplies and soil, including agricultural land and is consumed by stray animals.

The government's efforts to ban certain single-use plastics began in 2009 when Himachal Pradesh became the first state to ban plastic shopping bags. In 2017, Delhi adopted a more extensive ban that included bags, cutlery, cups, and plates.

By the beginning of this year, the local governments in more than half of 29 states and seven territories had crafted legislation taking aim at single-use plastic. Bans on plastic shopping bags are the most common regulations. 

Why we need alternatives to plastic

Approximately 70% of plastic packaging products is converted into plastic waste in a short span, according to an estimate done by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2015. Almost 66% of plastic waste, comprising polybags, multilayer pouches used for packing food items and so on, was sourced mainly from households and residential localities, the estimate showed.

Hence, this is why reducing our plastic footprint has become the need of the hour. Doing this might be a challenge but, it is definitely worth the effort.

Even PM Narendra Modi in his monthly radio address ‘Mann ki Baat’, urged citizens to start a movement to make the country plastic-free. While announcing a festival to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary on October 2, the PM appealed to the nation to start a mass movement to tackle the menace of plastic.  

How to keep plastic at bay  

If you are willing to give up on plastic, here are some simple everyday alternatives to consider:

Clay bottles: Plastic bottles used to store water takes around 1,000 years to biodegrade. Adding to this fact, plastic from the bottles often leaches into water over time which is why it makes sense to switch to an eco-friendly alternative. Handmade, reusable and biodegradable, clay bottles not only make for a better alternative, but they also help keep the water cool. 

Cloth bags: You'll be surprised to know that at the moment, the world consumes around 5 trillion plastic bags in a year – that is about 1 million bags a minute. Polythene bags are the biggest perpetrators of plastic waste. Despite blanket bans in many states and citizen movements, these bags continue to be in use. Cloth bags are a good alternative as they are reusable, as are bags made from jute, burlap or even recycled plastic.

Food takeaways: With a burgeoning culture of eating out and takeaways, we often end up filling our homes with plastic containers. We can recycle or reuse them but this has little sustainability beyond a few uses. A better alternative is to carry your own containers for takeaways. It might raise a few eyebrows but will avoid plastic from sneaking into your house.

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