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Updated At: Jul 11, 2022 07:17 AM (IST)
A man carries a plastic bag in Amritsar on Sunday. Photo: Sunil Kumar
Promote bamboo products, jute bags
Though single-use plastic is lightweight, handy and has ubiquitous existence in our daily lives, it is gradually being seen as a challenge to animals, marine life and future generations. The prohibition on single-use plastic will harbour innovation, specifically for plant-based rapid biodegradable products. Bioplastics are manufactured in whole or in part from biological resources. There are many affordable and easy to find alternatives. We can use bamboo and paper straws instead of plastic ones. Get a steel bottle for a long run instead of a plastic one. Promote bamboo or another reusable and edible cutlery. Instead of balloons, choose more environment-friendly decorations such as flowers. Opt for kites and paper ribbons. For grocery shopping, carry jute or cloth bags from home. Take a reusable glass or mug to office or school and save the environment. For effective execution of the plastic ban, the authorities concerned have set up national and state-level control rooms and special enforcement teams have also been created.
Ban will help foster overall development
The Environment Ministry made a very wise decision on single-use plastic. Despite knowing the fact that using plastic is detrimental for health, wildlife and environment, we people keep using them. After seeing the deteriorating condition of environment as well as human life, decision has been taken to ban 19 types of plastic items, which shockingly contributes to 40% of entire garbage. The Ganga river is worshipped by people on one side and on the other it is polluted with garbage and filth. A wider portion of the industry comprises plastic manufacturing units. The announcement has surely collapsed these units temporarily, but it will foster the overall development of the country in future. Everybody is apprehensive regarding alternatives to be used in place of plastic items of which people have become habitual. The government should have backup plans or they must suggest various alternatives. For instance, jute bags can be replaced with plastic carry bags, food can be served on banana leaves instead on plastic plates as these leaves have medicinal properties as well as conventional values too. Toothbrush made of bamboo can be used. Mutual efforts of both the authorities along with people are needed to make the move constructive. Residents must abide by the rules so that environment can be preserved and masses can lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Firms should install drinking water system
Potable drinking water facility along with a steel glass tumbler should be made available every few kilometres. This will stop the manufacturing and requirement of mineral water plastic bottles. The mineral water companies should install their drinking water systems, which are chargeable as per the volume of water consumed. The FMCG products which come in plastic packets or jars like chips, pulses, detergent powder, etc should have recycling centres of their respective brands in every city, where customer can return the empty packet in a good condition, and the company can recycle that packet and resell the product in it. Besides, glass, mud, clay and steel should be used, but in such a way that their chances of breaking are reduced to minimum.
No doubt about the harm plastic pollution is causing to the human and animal life and to the environment. So there is urgent need to put a ban on the use of at least single-use plastic. Central and state governments are working on it since long but without any favourable results. The cause of their failure is that they are working on the problem, but their direction is wrong. The governments don’t plug the hole at the source of the problem. They allow it to spread and then try to control it hence they fail. Instead of putting pressure on petty shopkeeper or vegetable vendor, the government should catch hold of the manufacturers of such plastic bags. It should act in a different direction to control the problem.
Give incentives for collecting waste
The planet is choking with plastic, thus causing a great harm to human life and environment. To solve the problem, the best solution is introduction of incentives for the same. As Central and state governments do give incentives to industrialists for setting up of industrial units and to farmers for diversification of crops, on the similar lines incentive should be given for collection of such plastic waste. Recently, the Himachal Pradesh Government took the initiative and collected single-use waste at the rate of Rs 75 per kg from students, who are to deposit the same in their respective school or college. I am sure that such a scheme if introduced in the state will bear fruit.
Hold awareness drives before taking action
Many earlier bans on polythene bags and single-use plastic items have failed and most probably even this current ban may not succeed. Some time back, the MC had distributed cloth bags in the city, and a ban on manufacture and use of polythene bags was imposed, but it was seen that no one cared about its importance and business was as before, mostly due to the lethargic attitudes of the authorities concerned. We only hope that this renewed effort will bring about desired results. Much before banning these polythene bags and single-use plastic items there should hold an intensive campaign to make people aware of the hazards and ill-effects on our health and environment. If politicians can splurge crores to advertise welfare schemes just to appease their vote bank, some fund can be used to highlight the perils of polythene bags and single-use plastic items. Plastic is even more hazardous when heaps of it is burnt. Animals swallow polythene bags along with the rubbish and get sick. Some countries allow carry bags made of biodegradable material with thickness beyond 50 microns, but use of eco-friendly material is advisable. In fact, the union government should support the creation of an entire waste management system around composite plastic. The revolutionary enzyme developed in a US university that accelerates the biological process to decompose plastic in a week, should be considered by the government. On local level, the MC administration should strictly impose these restrictions to curb the menace, but residents’ wholehearted participation can only yield desirable results. The authorities should be vigilant.
To end dependence on single-use plastic, the government should create awareness among masses about its ill-effects on health, wildlife and environment. Moreover, paper bags can prove to be an effective alternative for plastic. The availability of paper bags should be made surplus to end the use of plastic. The authorities are taking strict measures to implement the ban as we see reports of action being taken against single-use plastic everyday in newspapers.
Carry cloth bags from home
To help the government in reducing plastic pollution, one should carry cloth bags from your home to buy grocery or other things. Local sellers can also keep cloth bags, paper bags or jute bags as alternatives. Notably, most items that are banned can be replaced with similar items made out of paper. For instance, we can replace the plastic straws with paper-made straws.
Biodegradable plastic is that plastic can be broken down by naturally occurring organisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae. Even some containers made out of bamboo have melamine and formaldehyde resin. Paper and cardboard, whilst recyclable, require more energy to produce than plastic and are heavier to transport. A thin plastic bag has a smaller carbon footprint than a paper bag such as we might use for buying fruit and vegetables. According to an environment agency, we need to use a paper bag four times before its carbon footprint equates to one made of plastic. The authorities are also helping in implementing the ban. They are checking factories, shops and street vendors.
We have become so addicted to the use of plastic from a couple of decades that almost every item we use or buy contains plastic in one form or the other. Shifting to paper-made disposable products overnight will pose a burden on environment as it will gear up deforestation. Therefore, we need to act mindfully. Firstly, we need to avoid use of disposables as much as possible and encourage glass and metal cutlery. We have to re-embrace the habit of carrying our own traditional cloth bags and jute bags while going to shops, replacing plastic carry bags. Old newspapers can be used for wrapping purposes. We need to cease the use of straws as a matter of fashion as it is a serious threat to lives of many aquatic animals, when dumped into water bodies. As far as the implementation of the ban is concerned, the authorities need to curb the production of plastic as well, apart from posing fine on its usage. At the end of the day, we, the citizens, hold the responsibility to make sure the proper enforcement of these laws as it is not about following a mere rule, rather it’s about doing our bit to save the environment.
Carry out surprise checks in markets
There are many alternatives to single-use plastic which can be used to protect the environment. Bamboo straws should be used instead of plastic straws for drinking. Plastic cotton buds are widely used. They should be replaced by bamboo cotton buds. Glass plates can be used instead of plastic ones. The ban is clearly having an effect on the usage of single-use plastic in Amritsar. Many customers can be seen arguing with shopkeepers for giving plastic carry bags. The authorities must carry out surprise checks at random locations in the city to check that the ban is being enforced properly.
Shopkeepers should keep cloth bags
It should be made compulsory for ever shopkeeper to keep a cloth carry bag and ask customer to pay for it or the customer should bring their own carry bags like in 1960s and early 1970. In those days, every customer used to bring their own cloth carry bag. The authorities are not doing enough to implement the ban.
Steel is best alternative to plastic items
Plastic has become a part and parcel of our lives so much so that staying away from it is quite challenging now. It is important to find alternatives to plastic because it is becoming a nuisance and our planet is getting choked with it. In the past, things were wrapped in paper or paper bags, which are safe for making compost. Same goes with cardboard. Let’s start and decide to say no to plastic which pollute land, water and air. Replace all plastic items with wooden and bamboo household items. Silicone is also another option which is flexible and heat tolerant. Replace plastic bags with ones made of cloth, which is easy to use, reuse and washable. The government should issue guidelines to big companies to start using glass bottles to sell jams, pickles and squashes. Steel is also better option which is more durable and easy to clean. We all should pledge and commit for clean, green and pollution-free earth.
Led by senior officers, the district police recently conducted a massive cordon and search operation to nab anti-social elements and drug peddlers. Do you think such initiatives by the police will help create a sense of security among public?
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Remembering Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia
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