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Essay

Neha Yadav

Year-Prize: The 11th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Beat Plastic Pollution

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Beat Plastic Pollution, if you can’t reuse it, refuse it

Neha Yadav (India)
Honorable Metion

 

My knowledge on plastic pollution takes a one-hour journey. I’m constantly reminded of the evils of improper disposal of plastic waste and what it does to its environment.
Recently there was a heavy downpour in my city. While commuting to college, the water from the drains overflowed onto the roads along with other contents, mainly cloth pieces and plastic. It smelled so bad and made people unable to walk on the road. The water, under the bridge we pass, was a mucky shade of dark brown and yellow with plastic waste materials that formed black spots. My friend commented that plastic wouldn’t be misused if its production stopped.
However, this is not possible as we’re surrounded in a world full of plastic. What we can do is judiciously use plastic along with its careful disposal. Just as we like keeping our home neat and tidy, we should keep the environment clean by throwing plastic waste where it is to be thrown.
Today, our actions may be altering the lifestyle of many animals.  A recent study showed that squirrels are building their nests dependent on plastic that they roll into their mouths. Daily on the roads, the wandering cattle along with stray dogs choke on polythene bags. During the cyclone Hudhud, the hand-pumps did not work. This is because the plastic that settled into the ground didn’t allow the rainwater to seep into the groundwater reserve.
Plastic pollution is eminent during train journeys. We often store in our memory the look of plastic waste heaps; careless passengers throwing plastic forks, disposable cups and food containers out of the window. Even the plastic mineral water bottles sold in trains and at railway stations are unsafe. Research has shown that bottled water contains twice the microplastics found in tap water. Water bottle samples of certain brands including Indian ones show that each liter of water contained 10.4 microplastics.
Hence, we need to check the expiry date of the bottled water before drinking. Railway stations should make people aware of microplastics present in bottled water. They should also be made aware of the dire consequences of throwing plastic out of the train window.
We cannot be careless anymore, because whatever is carelessly disposed in the environment will eventually make its way into our stomachs. Though plastic ingested by us is 90% excreted, too much of microplastics leads to cancer and autism.
People also need to change their mindset of ‘A small thing won’t make a change’. Even a small child needs to realize the heavy consequences of throwing a toffee wrapper on the road.  That small toffee wrapper eventually finds its way into the ground or into the ocean and leads to plastic pollution. India’s Ganges River is the second biggest contributor of ocean plastic after Yangtze River in China.
My city is surrounded by water from one side; this sea meets into the ocean. Plastic dumped by people into these waters flows into the oceans only to be consumed by the marine animals. Even the coral reefs are not spared; the plastic waste causes a disease called “White Syndrome” in corals. However the Great Barrier Reef may have a chance of survival with Australia accounting for the minimum plastic waste.
Strict fines should be imposed on beach-goers who don’t clean up after themselves. Floating dustbins can also work towards cleaning the sea. Students can volunteer in frequent beach cleanups. Treat any plastic waste encountered as if thrown away by you and pick it up. Each one, pick one; you can make a difference.
Reduce on plastic materials by asking yourself: “Can I do without it?” and then you will see how you can cut down on several things.
Be a good consumer and learn to say “No, thank you”. Remember as consumers, you raise or lower demand; your refusal will set an example to go eco-friendly. Favour jute bags over polythene ones. Use reusable containers, through this you are eco friendly and you save on your money!
During functions or party, ensure proper disposal of garbage, especially plastic waste. Refuse single-use items like plastic straws, plastic cutlery and other food packaging items and favor biodegradable alternatives. Lessen plastic beverage bottle use with glass bottles.
Refuse clothes made from synthetic fibers over natural fibers like cotton. Wash synthetic-based clothes only when they are assembled in a full load, even then use lint filter in your washing machines. This will catch any fibers that are washed away.
The government should ensure dustbins in every locality. Take advantage of the dustbins on the road and separate your trash accordingly. Refuse to litter.
Through global commitment starting from your own house, we can help. We all have the right to live in a clean environment but it is our duty to see to it being plastic pollution-free.

4 Comments

Viraaj Kulshreshtha

Manjesh Jha

  • Manjesh Jha says :
    Congrats Neha.
    Posted 31-10-2018 19:48

Aman Gangwar

Kajal Saini

  • Kajal Saini says :
    Congratulations Neha!
    Posted 26-10-2018 14:05

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