Recently we are engaged in a trend in saving our environment, we aware people about various ill habits of us which is degrading the environment, children participate in road shows and street dramas portraying the adverse effects of our bad habits on environment. So what are our bad habits? How bad are they? And how is it affecting our environment? Moreover, is there any way we can truly protect our environment?
There are innumerable practices in our life which are causing harm to our environment on a regular basis and one preliminary such thing is the usage of plastic bags and bottles. When Leo Baekeland had invented Bakelite aka plastic in 1907, it had brought a revolution throughout the world. Soon almost everything got magically transmuted to plastic, starting from furniture, utensils, medical equipments, storage containers, watches, bags, bottles and many more things. Plastic was durable, cheap and can store almost anything and so people started using it rigorously. However, after a few decades, the horror of such extreme usage came to light and here we are mending our wrong deeds.
Plastic is actually a polymer which has very strong chemical bonds. This is the reason why it is so durable but this boon is a curse in disguise as the very chemical bonds that make them so durable tend to make them resistant to most natural processes of degradation. It takes ages for a simple plastic bag or a plastic container to degrade and that leads to taking up enormous amounts of space on our earth by plastic wastes. Most of them are dumped in seas which are causing the marine animals to die in a number of millions every year. Those poor creatures mistake plastic things to be their food and gobble them up, causing stroke, constriction, stomach failure and so on. Fishes and other sea creatures are hence getting genetically deformed because of consumption of such toxic products by them. Some bury these wastes under the soil as landfill but that doesn’t solve the problem. Plastic wastes secrete toxic fluids which mix with the soil and affect its fertility and with time making the land barren. Burning these wastes too won’t solve the problem since, the fumes released into the air while burning is highly fatal to health and can cause lung failure and permanent respiratory problems.
Hence, what we gather is, we cannot burn it, cannot bury it, neither can we leave it in the responsible hands of the microbes to do their job of degradation. So what to do? How to get rid of this thing?
Now here lies the problem, the wastes that have already accumulated have little chance of quick degradation. Most of these wastes are incinerated and the fumes produced are properly disposed so that it doesn’t harm our health. But what we can do is reduce our usage of plastic bags from now on so that the heap won’t increase any further.
One can follow these little rules to do their bit of environment protection:
- Forget that plastic bags exist in this world. Carry a cloth bag, or a paper or jute bag with you at all times so that you don’t have to take plastic bags from the vendors.
- Always segregate your wastes to bio degradable and plastics and then dump them. This helps to proper disposal of plastics and reduces environment damage.
- Reuse plastic containers for storing bulk items or leftovers.
- Avoid buying frozen foods because their packaging is mostly plastic. Even those that appear to be cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic. Plus you'll be eating fewer processed foods!
- Lessen the use of plastic ware at home and try converting to steel or glass wares.
- If you have many plastic containers and don’t know what to do, then how about making them decorative holders for your pretty petunias? Simply put those earthen tubs of flowers inside these containers and they will look even better!
- Make fresh squeezed juice or eat the fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It's healthier and better for you and for the environment.
- Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Go for fresh fruits and veggies instead of instant products that come in single serving cups.
- Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor.
- Stop buying bottled water and bring your own bottle with you. Bottles are a key factor to intensify our problems, so avoid buying them too much.
- If you have a choice then pick your cereals and other food items available in cardboard boxes and not plastic refills. Cardboard degrades much faster and has no health harms.
- Say no to straws. Come on! We can definitely do without them. Straws are one time use items which are a total waste afterwards.
There have been many drives by the Government to reduce the usage of these horrific items. Taxes have been established in order to discourage specific ways of managing plastic waste. Supermarkets now charge for every plastic bag we use. The landfill tax, for example, creates an incentive to choose to recycle plastics rather than contain them in landfills, by making the latter more expensive. Using plastic bags under 40 microns have been restricted and many places have turned environment friendly by going back to selling things in paper packages or cloth packages.
It would have been a different thing if we were to be the last generation on this Earth. Then we really didn’t have to care so much about the environment which was going to end anyway. But that’s not the case. Our children need to see real butterflies too rather than just 2D and 3D pictures. They have the right to breathe fresh air, walk on lush grassy fields, drink safe water. Let’s not steal their rights from them. Let’s promise to strive for a better tomorrow and reduce our usage of this terrible thing called Plastic!
Feature Image Source: flickr.com