Plastic pollution is a menace that has been given significant media attention in the last couple of decades. There have been several laws and amendments enacted by governments all across countries to curb pollution due to usage of plastic bags. Hundreds of environmentalists and NGOs have raised the issue globally. In the US alone, cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles have been working tirelessly to achieve their goal of zero waste, a concept in which production, consumption and recycling of products is carried out, without throwing even a fraction of the plastic garbage.
Given the potential hazards plastic pollution can cause to human, animal and marine life, total recycling of plastic bags or using other alternatives seems the only way out. Before we really run out of places to dump plastic wastes or oceans overflow with trillion tons of garbage, we must make efforts to finding efficient plastic pollution solutions.
How to Stop Plastic Pollution
The concept of zero waste seems to be a classic example of a utopian vision, that is likely to fail in its objectives. But just because an idea seems too far to become a reality, it must not deter us from trying our best. In the event of trying, even if we are able to eliminate 50% - 80% of plastic waste, it will be an astounding success. What are the solutions to plastic pollutions? Have a look.
Let us be Responsible
"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi. Most of us have developed a unique habit of blaming our governments for everything that goes wrong in the environment. Why do we have to wait for governments to make laws and compel us to do the right things as citizens? We will wait for environment laws to be framed and only then we will quit the habit of saying NO to plastic bags in grocery stores! Quite ridiculous.
As I have observed, our habit of shifting the responsibility to the government has made matters worse. Even if a few NGOs, environmental organizations and even the government try to work in tandem, we as citizens can be lazy or careless in assuming our true responsibility. Instead of waiting for the government to order us to conserve nature, each of us can make a huge difference, by just doing our bit for nature. You don't need a leader or a billion dollar environmental protection project to benefit nature. Just your little efforts are worth the results.
Irrespective of the fact that you are a resident of Canada, Australia, USA, India, Japan or China, following some simple steps will help you become an environmentally aware citizen.
- Carry your own personal bag in the market. If it is made of jute or paper, it is appreciated. Even if it is a plastic bag, you will at least not take another bag back to your home, in case you don't carry one in your pocket.
- Keep few folded bags in your pocket, cars, and bikes while going out. If you buy something, make it a point to use the bags you are carrying with you. Bags don't occupy a large space, they can be easily folded and kept in minimum possible spaces.
- Educate people to carry their own bags. Appreciate people if you watch them carrying their own bags. Don't feel hesitant to appreciate. Meeting with like-minded people and encouraging this habit will make it easier for you to spread the virtues of this seemingly small but extremely beneficial habit.
- Read about tips to reduce plastic pollution at home, work and during journeys. The Internet is an awesome source to find quick ways to eliminate plastic waste.
- If possible, give sometime to the communities in endeavors of environmental pollution control. Volunteer for NGOs, depending on your ability, education and flexibility.
- Believe that only a combined effort of the government and its citizens can make a difference.
Corporates, Governments, and Industry: Call for a Change
Enacting environmental laws is not a cakewalk, as it appears to us. Recycling laws in the US haven't yet got any national level stature but at the state and local government levels, there are several laws that have been enacted. In NYC and Seattle, for instance, fines are imposed upon citizens who are found throwing away recyclable materials.
On a national level, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors numerous issues related to waste management and works in close coordination with several state governments to manage the plastic wastes. Some of the best plastic pollution solutions can be reached by close association of mega corporates, technology companies, manufacturing industries and with the support of the government. Since plastic pollution is not an issue that can be controlled overnight, yearlong policies must be framed to achieve success. These policies further can't solely be decided by a government or any single corporate house.
All the pillars of the industry especially the suppliers, manufacturers, packagers and the government have to work as one single unit. Only a holistic approach towards plastic pollution can work. International cooperation of several countries is also the key to reduce plastic pollution. For example, plastic used in the packaging of millions of goods that are exported to China from the US, every year, can be recycled for packaging purposes when China has to export goods to the US! This is exactly what has been happening in the last few years.
With innovation in waste management, the future of this world can be made brighter. Governments must allocate funds for research of the best technological methods to tackle plastic pollution. If we are really trying to change at an individual level and the government is cooperating with us, it can surely lead to a better world. You can contribute your simple methods, ideas and tips to curb plastic pollution by commenting below, in the comment column.