Introduction Plastic has become a part of our daily life and we use it as a daily use item. And till recently we used to think that plastic was one of the best inventions of man. However, recent studies and researches have turned the story in a different manner. The documentaries and other news items these days depict how cruel this plastic could be. Even the common man has now learned that the same plastic that had been a useful thing to him sometime back could actually be a hazard to him and to the many other living beings on Earth. Many organizations, NGOs and individuals have now taken up the challenge to make the environment a little better place by encouraging people to go plastic free. We can also take up the drive in our small way and make our immediate neighborhood a clean area.
But saying is easy. We first need to understand the concept and plan accordingly. We need to get rid of plastics gradually and sequentially. The one-time use plastics are the most harmful. So we can start with these in a small way. Let's take our neighborhood where all can contribute.
Why should we go plastic free The plastic free campaigns have taken hold these days. However, we really need to understand why we should go plastic-free so that we could honestly work on how to go plastic free. Plastics are synthetic materials that do not decompose. Further, these products release toxins when burnt. These plastics this way can be said to be harmful in both ways i.e. when left like that in the open and also when burnt. When left on the ground or in the garbage area, they are very likely to enter the food chain of the grazing animals. They easily find their way to the stomach of the cattle when they are grazing and cause damage there.
They pose danger to the marine species also. The plastic also enters the body of the big fishes as these are dumped into the oceans. The end result is that the growth of the species in size and in number gets hampered.
So, we can visualize the much bigger danger that plastics can bring if not controlled immediately. A drive for turning the neighborhood into a plastic-free neighborhood would be a big leap in our efforts to having a clean environment.
How to go plastic free
Generating awarenessThe first step towards the cause will be generating awareness among the people in the neighborhood. But for this, we need to understand the underlying damage first. Few steps can be taken up in the neighborhood to make it work:
Carrying own bags It is always the best solution. Carrying your own cloth bag can save you money while you are also helping in saving the environment. Else you may also carry your paper bag or any such bag that can be reusable.
Carrying own cups and bottles Plastic use and throw cups should be avoided. If we carry our own cups, we can also be assured of hygiene and cleanliness. Carrying our own water bottles will also in a way cause a hurdle in the growing use of one-time use bottles.
Saying no to plastic straws Plastics straws and other such use and throw plastic materials can be avoided all the time. Besides being unhygienic, these create much nuisance.
ConclusionWe really have to tighten the rope and start working towards a plastic-free environment if we want to live in a clean environment. The process for it starts from our very neighborhood and with the contribution of every hand. Generating awareness is the first step for the campaign.
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If we look back, we can see that the invention of plastic was accepted by the people of the world with both hands. After a long period of its use, it has been discovered to pose a major challenge to the earth. This is another invention. Every invention has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Man's love for plastics increased since it was userfriendly. So the world has come to rely on plastic. If plastic was born after a long period of research, it would take a longer time to retrieve what we dumped into the soil, rivers and sea after use.
Recycled plastic also includes the ones that are thrown out. It is collected and send to the recycling centres and the non-recyclables are sent to the tarmac hub or road construction company for using mixed with tar. Experiments have shown that the addition of such plastic wastes to the tarmac can prevent the tar on the road surface from cracking. So many companies are willing to buy back with a minimum cost.
There are already cups made of paper and other organic materials for drinking water, tea and coffee. They can also be used for wedding parties and other functions. As in the olden days, the use of glass and clay plates and cups must be made mandatory.
Currently in Kerala, the law prohibits the sale of plastic bags. There are also special squads to tighten it up. The health department of the local bodies (panchayat, municipal and corporation) inspects the plastic covers in the shops in the respective areas. But if the checking is not a mere farce due to bribe, this could be a good move. It should also be accompanied by awareness programs.
Many Municipalities and Panchayats in Kerala have started distributing cloth bags to the residents of their area for regular use. Along with the currently lawfully approved micron-size plastic covers, cloth bags have been prepared for distribution in most malls. But since the price of cloth bags are a bit higher than plastic, the majority of customers accept plastic covers. So banning all plastic covers, regardless of micron size, will put an end to the lies shown on it.
Plastic burning, whether in public or indoors is strictly regulated and legal action is required.
Heartfelt thoughts and actions of all against the harmful plastics is the need of the hour.
In cities, we see the cattle eating the waste available on the roadsides and the waste will always have some plastic contents. This is a real threat for the animals. I agree on this with the author.
In many states in India, plastic covers are prohibited. But we will see even vegetable vendors giving vegetables in such bags only. These days we carry our bags but then we pack separate vegetables in separate plastic covers and put them in bags. These actions should be stopped.
Clay glasses and clay pots are to be used instead of using plastic glasses and plastic jugs. Plastics will not get disintegrated biologically. So we have to burn them and they liberate toxic chemicals. So open burning is not advisable and incinerators are to be used. But it is a very costly proposition. So we should avoid using such plastics.
Many shops these days trying to give cloth bags but customers will not bring the same bag when they come again. The mindset of the people should change. They should give more importance to the environment rather than their personal convenience.
We should teach our children about the problems with plastics and we should see that they will never get habituated to use plastic covers and plastic items.
The government should see this problem very seriously and strict rules are to be brought to ensure that people will stop using these items. They should start displaying banners in public places and also conduct competitions for students so that awareness will come the citizens of tomorrow.