Get it out: 10 simple steps to remove plastic from your lives

– By Sahaana Sankar

“Its made of plastic, its fantastic!”, the popularAqwatune of the 90s rings in my ears as I compose my thoughts to pen this blog post. The 80s and the 90s were the period of significant and rapid rise of plastics, be it single use or otherwise. During that period, every household or industry was dotted with various forms of plastic, with packaging leading the list. Data shows that a whopping 146 million tonnes was used in this sector in 2015!

This year, the theme of World Environment Day, #beatplasticpollution, truly echoed Newton’s third law, “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. Human actions of misusing, overusing and improperly disposing plastic waste has led to polluted oceans, extinction of precious marine life and increase in global temperature. In a nutshell, plastic use has been one of the pivotal reasons for large scale climate change and this year India along with several other countries have pledged to ban single use plastics in a period of 4 year at the UN General Assembly.

In 2018, on World Environment Day, the Indian Government announced a tall order that by 2022 India will “eliminate all single use plastics from our beautiful country”. Over 90% of the Indian states have taken the pledge in-line with the Government of India’s mission, with Mumbai being the largest metropolitan city already implementing it! Chennai is to follow in January 2019.

How prepared are we for such a massive movement of removing these items we think we are most dependent on? The replacements for plastics come with a cost. Changes at the policy level, empowering youth and women in trades fostering eco friendly material, competitive pricing and subsidies are some ideas to ease the transition. Long term vision and methodical implementation would be pivotal in making this order a success!

While at the macro level, support is required from the Government, the movement towards plastic ban begins at an individual level. Commitment to the cause, consistency in practice and consciousness of impact of plastic use at a personal level could prove to be a differentiator allowing us to reach this goal. This article lists out some key ways on how we can reduce plastic use in our day to day life.

As a small step to instill this, and to bring about long term behavioral change,Hand in Hand Inclusive Development and Services set on a mission this World Environment Day. Called the #hih21 day challenge, this event was simple. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so why not practice not using certain single use plastic for 21 days. Participants of the challenge swore to give up plastic straws, plastic bags, plastic boxes and plastic liners. Some other habits included creating awareness on why single use plastics are harmful to at least one person every day. 120 participants took part, thus contributing in their own way to planet earth.

Some simple steps that you can take to avoid plastics include:

  • Ditch the plastic shopping bags – always keep cloth bags handy for your groceries and other shopping!
  • Love takeaway? Carry your traditional dabbas to restaurants instead of depending on the plastic boxes and cutlery!
  • Want to quench your thirst with tender coconut water? Politely avoid the plastic straw, rather drink directly from coconut! Have the vendor cut the hole just right so you would drink out of it as you would out of a cup of water!
  • Do you know it takes three times the amount of water to make a plastic bottle than to fill it? Carry your own metal or glass bottles!
  • The ever common black dustbin liners can be now replaced with newspaper covers. Its also a fun DIY activity!
  • Ladies, do your bit by switching to cloth pads or menstrual cups to avoid the monthly pileup of sanitary napkins
  • Farm to table being the buzzword – start buying your oil, pulses and rice in your own containers! You’ll then see how much plastic packaging goes unnoticed!
  • Replace your melamine and plastic cutlery at home with stainless steel or try your hand at the recently popular edible cutlery!
  • Swap your plastic toothbrush with a wooden one!

The concept of living a ‘zero waste’ life is fast emerging but only few have chosen to adopt it. Whilst one maybe conscious of the detrimental effects of plastic bags or bottles, convenience of this material trumps our conscience. Thus the change in behavior and mindset must be fostered from a young age. Schools, teachers and parents must follow and reiterate to children and students, paving the way for a cleaner India.

While we take control of plastic consumption, there is a surmounting problem of plastic disposal that needs to be addressed. As a first step, segregation of waste and recycling would be a start. Hand in Hand Inclusive Development and Services’ Recycle for Life model has ensured close to 80 % source segregation of waste in 5000 households in Mamallapuram. This didn’t happen overnight though. Over 3500 days of counselling, hard work and reiterating messages through several innovative platform, we have been able to create impact and change in mindset, proving that nothing is impossible.

So, let us start simple and start at home. There is always a choice. Choose the right one!

Subscribe for similar stories and more information about the work we do

Recent Posts