Little steps to make a big difference
Blog by Swati Thiyagarajan   |   5/11/2012 5:58:52 PM

This is India's Dirty Dozen:

1) Plastic bags
2) Plastic wrappings
3) Beverage cans
4) Plastic bottles
5) Cigarrette butts
6) Disposable styrofoam cups and plates and containers
7) Chips/snacks packets
8) Plastic toys
9) Bottle caps and lids
10) Plastic straws
11) Cellophane wrappers and papers
12) Paper

Everyday things that we use and throw without a moment's thought. Often not even into a dustbin but straight onto a road or wherever we might be standing.

If this country has dirty cities and towns it is not just that the municipality that has failed in keeping it clean; we certainly have not helped either.

These fairly innocuous sounding items when thrown around by half a billion people suddenly don't stay innocuous anymore. They litter our streets, choke our drains , float in our rivers and often wind up in our oceans

Global estimates say that between 500 million and 1 trillion plastic bags are discarded every year... something we might use for anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours will take over a thousand years to disintergrate.

The worst part; when they get eaten by cows, fish, turtles and other living creatures, it can kill them. When we eat those creatures or consume milk, all that plastic comes right back into us causing various health problems in a process called bioaccumalation, so what we throw away as garbage often actually finds its way into our bodies.

Even a plastic water bottle when left out in the sun for too long or kept for a few days, the water might either have bacteria or toxins.

The big question is can we live without plastic bags and bottles? The answer is yes

We can carry cloth, jute or paper bags for our vegetable or any other shopping and we can certainly ask for glass bottles whenever we buy drinks. Yes I know that water is a problem because we only get them in those plastic bottles and not in glass bottles but as citizens with voting power we can ask for this to change. In the mean time we can carry glass water bottles decant the water from the plastic bottles and return them to the shop for recycling. Sure glass might cost more but we can keep the bottle for a long time or when we return the bottle for recycling we can get our money back for the extra cost.

It may take ten minutes of our day to organise ourselves to do this. It does not solve all the problems but will certainly go a long way in reducing the burden on this planet. Surely its not a badly spent ten minutes if it means our health and the health of this planet, our only home.


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