he world is facing environmental crisis and we the humans are still looking ahead for our development in the very roots of the environmental crisis. Plastic is among those things which have been hazardous to our environment including the living beings but, still, plastic is used endlessly worldwide. Humans have
become dependent on plastics for a range of purposes and this dependency has to be ended. Recently, the centre has put a complete ban on the single-use plastic in India.
Single-use plastics are among those goods which have become a part and parcel of our lives but at the same time are the major pollutants, whether air, water or land, as well as the greatest threat to the environment. Single-use plastic goods are those which are used once and then discarded such as plastics used for packaging food items and other items such as shampoo, detergent, cosmetics, plastic cutleries, coffee cups, water bottles, polythene bags, trash bags, cling films, plastics used for decorative items, and others. Looking at the endless use of plastic, a ban must be considered as a necessary move by the Indian government. We need to understand “What we give to the nature, Nature gives back to us”.
It is high time for each of us to understand that we are abusing the beautiful gifts of nature, and this in return will impact our lives. Today, Government has banned the single-use plastics in India, but there is a question we must pose to ourselves, do we really always need a government intervention to protect our environment? Do we really need to be forced to be responsible towards nature? It should be our duty, our responsibility to lead a sustainable life and to conserve of environment.
HE Times : Why do we need a Ban on Single-use Plastics?
Divyanshu Shekhar : We have been in a process of banning use of plastics in phases. And this time the single-use plastics has been banned in India which could substantially help in reducing the hazardous impacts of plastics on environment. Around 91 per cent of all plastics is single-use and the most problematic thing with this type of plastic is the difficulty of its collection and recycling. Most of the Single-use plastics are very small and discarded directly in the environment. This kind of plastic is non- biodegradable and after a period of time it converts into micro-plastics which when enters the food sources can be extremely harmful for human body as well as the animals in particular.
Even the chemicals used for the processing of the plastics may affect the human bodies causing diseases like cancer or reproductive problems. Not just this, the plastic waste is polluting the rivers and oceans too, in fact polluting more than the land. This is harming marine animals. Plastic could be a convenient and cheaper option but it is definitely not a good option as it has only negative impacts on environment and living beings. Plastic in its every stage of its life cycle emits greenhouse gases. A complete ban on Single- use Plastics not only will reduce the environmental degradation and pollution but also inculcate the urge amongst the producers to work on the sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to the single-use plastic goods.
HE Times : What is the role of youth in protecting environment from degradation?
Divyanshu Shekhar : Youth has a major role in saving the environment from degradation and especially reducing the usage of the plastics in our day to day life. In a country like ours where the youth constitutes 22 per cent of the total population can become the role model and influencer for others. Not only the youth of any defined or restricted age group but even the teenagers can play a major role in reducing the use of plastics. Since they constitute a major section of the population, and since they are more exposed to the environment related problems and the harmful effects of the plastics, they could significantly contribute in reducing the use of plastics. If our young population opt to bring little changes in their own lifestyles by using alternatives to not only single-used plastics but bringing in more innovative and eco-friendly alternatives to the various types of plastics used in day to day life, this will bring sharp fall in the total consumption of plastics.
HE Times : How Youth can influence the reduction of the single-use plastic usage?
Divyanshu Shekhar :I have already talked about why youth has a major role in reducing the use of plastics in our country. Our young Population is aware and educated. They can easily use this awareness and education to make other people aware and to educate them. Youth can be an instrument in spreading the knowledge and the ideas. Environment education should be compulsorily included in the school as well as college curricula. Workshops should also be organized in schools, colleges and if possible at workplaces too where, people are not only taught about the environmental issues and taught the dos, and Don’ts but are also encouraged to bring ideas of alternatives, and solutions to those issues.
Youth have the potential to influence people not only by words but by actions too. The single-use plastics are substantially used by the youth. Once they realize the impacts of the plastic pollution and need to bring shifts in their actions and their way of consumption, they would definitely bring remarkable change in the environment conditions. Starting from using eco-friendly and recyclable products replacing the plastic goods like plastic cutlery, plastic carry bags, plastic bottles and tiffin boxes or boxes used for other purposes. They can shift to products made of paper, wood, steel, bamboo, etc. One can use steel or copper water bottles which are reusable instead of using plastic bottles. In fact copper bottles are good for health too as it helps in proper digestion and boosting the immune system. Similarly, they can carry reusable bags made of jute, or cloth or paper instead carrying plastic bags.
When people are going out to eat, ask for paper straws, or paper plates or reusable cutlery. When it is asked by the customer, it would create affect and influence not only the one who is providing you services but also other people around. This is one way of reducing the use of plastics by bringing change in one’s own actions. Youth have the potential to influence and change others’ actions too. They can easily influence their family and friends directly, they can do campaigning too at school or college levels, they can convey messages through social media, nukkad naatak, plays, rallies etc. The most important thing here is, the youth has to realize not only the need to protect environment but also to realize their potential to save the environment for themselves as well as for the many coming generations.