World Environment Day 2018

June 5th is observed as World Environment Day to generate awareness and encourage conscious efforts by the governments, organizations, and individuals towards the protection of the environment. While India is the global host this year, the theme for 2018 is Beat Plastic Pollution”. The statistics for plastic waste that we generate are alarming. Worldwide, up to 500 billion plastic bags are used each year, at least 30 million tonnes of plastic waste makes way to the world’s oceans annually and one million plastic bottles are sold every minute.  Whilst plastic was originally invented to make lives easier, it was the poor waste management, reckless disposal, and massive usage that caused disastrous effects. According to the UN Environment, this theme encourages the motto If you can’t reuse it, refuse it”. There are simple steps you can take that will greatly reduce the amount of plastic waste you are generating.
  1. Use biodegradable paper straws or recyclable stainless steel straws instead of plastic straws. The hospitality industry has also started making the switch from the plastic straws to stainless steel and biodegradable straws. Not only is the plastic straw non-biodegradable, but it also tends to fragment into smaller pieces which many marine animals confuse for food. Refusing to use plastic straws is a simple step that can prevent thousands of tons of plastic from entering our oceans.
  2. Limit your use of single-use plastic articles. 50% of all plastic that is used is disposable non-biodegradable plastic or single-use plastic. Single-use plastic articles are hardly ever recycled and end up constituting a major part of non-biodegradable garbage.
  3. Refuse plastic cutlery. While ordering food for delivery, or during an in-flight meal, refuse any unnecessary plastic cutlery.
  4. Carry your own water bottle. Many of us are guilty of purchasing bottled water packaged in plastic bottles. It’s always better to carry your own reusable bottles while on the go.
  5. Buy Local Produce – Most things that are shipped to you tend to be packed in excessive bubble wraps and plastic wrappers. When you buy locally, you reduce your plastic consumption.
  6. Carry a collapsible cup while traveling – A collapsible cup is a compact container that can be used to drink from instead of a paper/plastic cup and is usually made of stainless steel or silicone.
  7. Pack your lunch in a lunchbox instead of ziplock bags – Carrying food in disposable zip lock bags sneakily adds to the amount of waste you’re generating.
Additionally, there are several steps you can take that will further bring down your carbon footprint while also reducing your contribution to various kinds of pollution.
  • Recycling responsibly remains one of the major steps that can positively influence our environment. We must always opt for recyclable options while purchasing products. Furthermore, the segregation of waste is an important prerequisite to responsible recycling.
  • The use of renewable sources of energy by countries, organizations, institutions, and industries would greatly reduce the carbon footprint.
  • Composting of any biodegradable material would reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, control erosion, and enrich the soil.
  • Carpooling is a simple way to contribute to a better environment. Many apps are now available that will match you to people you can carpool with. Additionally, the carpool feature provided by taxi aggregator apps can also be utilized.
  While government, international authorities, and organizations have a major role to play when it comes to safeguarding the environment, it is eventually individual efforts on a large scale that make a huge difference. If simple changes are implemented by people around the world, in their lifestyle, we would be able to curb the menace that plastic has caused in our oceans as well as our lands and live in co-existence with nature.