Another year has gone by and another World Environmental Day is around. Despite being on the brink of an environmental catastrophe, the common man doesn’t seem to understand the magnitude of it. Most of our natural resources are in peril. Air, water, land—the quintessential basis of our existence are in a grave danger.
Even as we see scary pictures of plastic pollution, deforestation, rampant urbanisation and countless other forms of pollution everyday, what can we do to reverse the course of destruction that we have embarked upon?
Human race is known for its survival instincts. Our evolution has ensured an unparalleled intellect. In the last 100 years, we have reached new pinnacles of advancement. Unfortunately this has caused a severe strain on our environment.
One of the biggest threats looming large is plastic pollution. Plastic, when invented, was touted as a miracle material but is now one of the leading causes of pollution of land, water and air.
The world that didn’t know what plastic was just a few decades ago’ seems to be addicted to it now. Our oceans and rivers are filling with plastic at an alarming rate. Aquatic and land animals are dying in large numbers due to ingestion of plastic.
· More than 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped in ocean very year
· 1 in 3 Species of marine mammals has been found entangled in marine litter
· Over 90% of all sea birds have plastic pieces in there stomach.
· Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour
· Only 1% of Plastic bags are recycled worldwide.
· Ocean Debris worldwide kills atleast 100 thousand mammals each year and 1 million seabirds each year
· Plastics makeup 60-90% of all marine debris
Single use disposables like plastic water bottles, plastic cutlery and plastic packaging are being used indiscriminately all over the world. Despite the situation being alarming, the production of plastic is only rising. A few thousand eco warriors around the world are fighting tooth and nail to reduce this menace. If their efforts have to bear any impact on our environment, we, the common people, have to take the bull by its horns and tackle this problem head on. Governments have to be pushed into taking strict action against production and usage of plastic. People everywhere have to make a serious effort in reducing this menace.
India has traditionally been a waste-wise country. Our culture has always taught us not to waste resources. We have always worshipped Air, Water, Land and Fire but sadly we have forgotten our culture and adopted wasteful living.
As we are a heavily populated country, anything we do, has an impact on the environment. Until recently we had never thought of waste as an issue but now the civic agencies in our country are not able to handle the sheer amount of waste that we are churning every second. A city like Bengaluru generates 4000 tonnes of waste every day and most of this ends up in landfills. It’s terrifying to put a number to the amount of waste generated by the whole world. It is high time that we adopt sustainable means of living. We need to revisit our lifestyle before the advent of plastics. A few western countries are already taking steps to ban single use disposables. India still has a huge rural population which doesn’t use plastics rampantly. We can still reverse the pollution if we decide to. A few simple steps will ensure a cleaner and safer environment.
Segregation means to separate different types of waste at source. Waste can be broadly classified into Dry, Wet, Electronic and Reject waste. Dry waste comprises paper, plastic, metal and all other waste which can be reused or recycled. Wet waste is the organic waste which is generated in kitchens and farms. Electronic waste comprises of discarded electrical and electronic devices and Reject waste is hazardous waste, medical waste and sanitary waste. Segregation ensures better management of different kinds of waste. Composting
Composting is another effective way to manage organic waste. Almost 60 per cent of waste generated in Indian homes is organic and organic waste is compostable. Composting organic waste results in forming of compost which is an excellent chemical-free manure which enriches the soil and helps in producing organic vegetables and fruits. Many home composting kits are available now and people should manage their own waste at source. Community composting is another effective way to manage waste as a community and keep resourceful organic waste away from landfills.
Indians have always reused resources. Unfortunately economic boom has made a section of society adopt disposable culture. We buy more than we need which has resulted in huge amount of perfectly usable stuff being wasted. A conscious effort has to be made to repair and reuse resources instead using and throwing?
This is one of the most relevant solutions to our current problems. Refusing all kinds of single use disposables will rid our planet of thousands of tons of hazardous non-biodegradable waste.
Plastic does not degrade for thousands of years and we already have enough waste to pollute all our water bodies. We need to stop now if we wish to make any impact to the already huge crisis carrying our own water bottles, using reusable plates and cutlery. Refusing goods packed in plastic and finding alternatives to them is very important.
Sustainable life choices
All the above solutions are sustainable life choices. People are slowly realising that the life style led by our ancestors was healthy for us and the environment. We need to bring that back and reduce the load on our planet. A lot is being done in this sector. Thousands of women are shifting to sustainable means of managing menstruation and keeping away tons of hazardous, chemical filled sanitary waste from landfills. Citizen volunteers across the world are working day and night to reduce pollution in many ways. Governments are working in co-operation with one another to fight against Global warming and climate change. Each one of us has to make an effort to pitch in. Drops of water make an ocean.
Environmentalists are repeatedly warning us of impending disasters due to our callous attitude towards the well being of our planet and its resources. It is time to stop all that harms Mother Earth. The popular Cult Movie, ‘Avengers Infinity war’ passed on a subtle message. The Villain Thanos wipes out half the Earth’s population, he thinks we are too many people sucking out all resources. We are on the brink now and Mother Nature knows how to reclaim what belongs to her. We need to pay heed to the signs or it would be too late before she turns villain and takes her revenge.
( The writer is a blogger and writes on environmental issues)