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Essay

Ashwini Brijmohun

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

 

Ashwini Brijmohun (Mauritius)

Honorable Mention

 


            It is well on its way to becoming a staple in our life. It is everywhere as visible as it is vilified. If a comprehensive league table of environmental ills existed, it might even top the list. From car parts to crisp packets, it is suffusing our Earth and beyond. It is so ubiquitous that we can hardly notice it. We are talking about plastics of course! These materials through their seemingly limitless morphing of forms and functions have shaped the past century.
          Plastic is something which we use for a short period of time and then dispose of. We mindlessly do so, aloof to the consequences of our act. Of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced annually, about a third is chucked away soon after use. All the plastic that have ever been produced are already enough to wrap the whole world in plastic film; that sounds enough to asphyxiate the whole planet!
          What will become of this debris? Landfill will stay buried until future generations rediscover it but it is a different story altogether for plastic that reaches the oceans. Its potential harmful impact on the health of sea creatures spiralling up the food chain to reach us humans is alarming! However, our knowledge of its ultimate fate is hazy. Already, just as noodles gather in the centre of a bowl of stirred soup, the plastic flotsam caught in the currents have meandered from coast to coast in circular troops and been dubbed the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’.
          For every cause that has ever been in fashion, shrinking our plastic footprint is a blaring call for action. Of course, many countries have already launched the ground breaking initiative of banning plastic bags in public areas and ratified numerous laws concerning its use. Carbon taxes have spurred recycling which is less energy intensive than producing virgin plastic. However, this is choosing to be part of the solution rather than the root of the problem. Solely banning and imposing penalties on plastic bags especially in countries which have the means is better for the conscience than for the environment; without further action, it is like putting a finger on a spigot at a time when we need to suppress the tidal wave.
          The fact is, we cannot just ban plastic products; we absolutely need to invest in alternatives. The world is different, the problems are different. We just cannot carry on digging up more and more landfills. What will become of this Earth? We need a wider array of smart public policies which can confine the problem within defined parameters. We now know more than we knew before, so we can do more!
          Sometimes things do not seem reusable but we would be surprised at what we can do by applying just a little creativity. This will pave the way of applying the 3Rs, that is, Reduce, Reduce and Recycle theory. From a bright plastic bottle vase to light up the room to an eco friendly plastic loudspeaker to amplify sound; From fashioning a stylish bracelet to a tinkling anklet, any creativity can be unleashed in a jiffy and readily if the do it yourself mantra is applied.
There are so many things to do! We can for example make colourful kites by cutting plastic pieces which will be a feat for the eyes especially for the kite flying contest during the Hindu festival of Sankranti. As funny as it may sound, my neighbours use half filled plastic water bottles around the garden to scare away cats. Myth or not, in contrast to mine, I rarely see one tramping around in their garden.
          My motherland, Mauritius is a tiny isle set in a silver sea, surrounded by sandy beaches. However, gradually, this beauty of hers is gradually being tainted by ignorant people who leave this quasi non-perishable material known as plastic to pollute the beach. Nevertheless, as dutiful citizens, having the innate responsibility to protect our native land, we regularly carry out cleaning campaigns to preserve its beauty. Cleaning is good but not polluting by plastic is an even better option!
          As a society, we should think holistically about the products we use and their impacts. The science is still murky and human studies are few are far from definitive. There is progress but no real development of the spirit. Let us not delve into the scientific gobbledegook of plastic and the next time we go to the market, let us think twice about the havoc we will unleash if we buy plastic. Let us become the agents of change ourselves and refuse or reuse plastic whenever we need to. Lastly, let us convince people to leave behind  the legacy of a sustainable planet. For the world is round and ‘what goes around, comes around’.

6 Comments

Manjesh Jha

  • Manjesh Jha says :
    Congratulations Ashwini.
    Posted 31-10-2018 19:56

Aman Gangwar

  • Aman Gangwar says :
    Congratulations!
    Posted 31-10-2018 19:42

Kanishka Thakur

Kajal Saini

  • Kajal Saini says :
    Congratulations Ashwini
    Posted 26-10-2018 13:00

Archa B Jayan

  • Archa B Jayan says :
    Congrats, Ashwini !!!
    Posted 24-10-2018 00:52

Viraaj Kulshreshtha

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