Going “bananas” for environment!

Going “bananas” for environment!

Going “bananas” for environment!

Rahul Bhandari, IAS

Amid the entire world grappling with the problem of environment pollution, some small but admirable initiatives across the globe have restored hope.

The information pouring in from Vietnam is both pleasant and relieving. The shopping malls and shops have started using banana leaves to pack goods. A supermarket in Thailand has also started using banana leaves replacing polythene bags to pack vegetables.

Some individuals have also made attempts in Taiwan and Vietnam to reduce the use of plastics. Media reports suggest that they are using banana leaves for packing goods, offering discounts on eco-friendly products, bags made of maize powder and recycled stationery have been in trend.

At least three market chains in Vietnam – Lotte Mart, Saigon Co.op, and Big C –have started experimenting with banana leaves as a packaging alternative in their stores as well. The grocery chain Lotte Mart plan to completely replace plastic with leaves nationwide. Big C already offers biodegradable bags made with corn powder in its stores.

Singapore supermarkets have initiated campaigns on the need to reduce plastic bag use. The Taiwanese shops now charge for single-use plastic bags to discourage customers from using them. The big news has trickled in from China. The country has witnessed 66 per cent drop in plastic bag since the banning of the use of ultra-thin plastic bags in 2008.

Interestingly, people in Taiwan have taken a step ahead. They have started carrying their own mugs for tea or coffee instead of using thermacol or plastic mugs. Countries like Taiwan, Vietnam, Kenya, Britain, France, Canada, Zimbabwe and Morocco have also launched a crusade against the use of plastic.

If some of the less developed countries could wake up to fight environment pollution due to plastic, why can’t people in India imbibe the change? Traditionally, Indians used plates made of leaves (pattals) to serve food during weddings or religious ceremonies. The tradition can be revived. A jute or cloth bag can very well replace plastic carry bags. Plastic cups could also witness the revival of kulhars (earthen containers).

Options are a plenty. What we lack is the will and initiative to shun plastic and imbibe the rich Indian tradition.

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