Plastic pollution has become one of the most serious environmental issue, as rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products overwhelms the world’s ability to deal with them. Today, globally we produce about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population and we have recycled only 9% of it. Rest is dumped either on wastelands, or in the oceans. As a result, many researchers believe that our oceans will have more plastic than fish by 2050.
India’s plastic waste crisis is very big. India generates nearly 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day, making it the 15th biggest plastic polluter globally. Discarded plastic waste litter the country’s roads, rivers and also form huge mounds in garbage dumps across the country. During the monsoon, plastic bottles at the dump accumulate water and are a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Besides the stench, the site poses a major health hazard for the area’s residents, exposing them to the mosquito-borne diseases.
To raise awareness about the burning issue of ‘Plastic Pollution’, the ‘International Plastic Bag Free Day’ is celebrated each year on July 3. First observed in 2009, the Day aims at sharing the message that a ‘plastic-bag-free’ world is possible. International Plastic Bag Free Day is a part of the broader ‘Break Free From Plastic Movement’. Many international NGOs and thousands of world-citizens actively take part in its activities, and try to fight for a sustainable future.
Here are 17 ways to reduce your plastic waste:
° Avoid buying frozen foods because their packaging is mostly plastic. Even those that appear to be cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic.
° Purchase foods like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. You save money and unnecessary packaging.
° Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages, even when ordering from a to-go shop.
° Bring your own container for take-out or your restaurant doggy-bag since many restaurants use styrofoam.
° Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
° Ask your local grocer to take your plastic containers (for berries, tomatoes, etc.) back. If you shop at a farmers market they can refill it for you.
° Use a reusable produce bag. Purchase or make your own reusable produce bag and be sure to wash them often.
° Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk.
° Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic.
° Buy boxes instead of bottles. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.
° Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter.
° Don’t use plasticware at home and be sure to request restaurants do not pack them in your take-out box.
° Use cloth diapers to reduce your baby’s carbon footprint.
° Make fresh squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles.
° Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner.
° Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Also, opt for fresh fruits and veggies and bulk items instead of products that come in single serving cups.
° Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor.