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Essay

Ankur Mishra India

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

Comments 5 Comments    recommendations 0 recommendations

LEVERAGING INTECONNECTEDNESS TO REDUCE PLASTIC BASED POLLUTION

 

Ankur Mishra (India)

Honorable Mention


The Sanskrit term ‘Panchatatva’ aptly describes the cyclical nature of interaction between human beings and natural environment. It implies that everything on this planet is composed of five basic elements known as ‘Panchamahabhutas’, The elements being  Akash (Sky or space), Vayu (Air),  Jal (Water), Agni (Fire) and Prithvi (Earth). It is my belief that an answer to our woes of plastic based pollution also lies in harnessing integrated nature of interactions between environement and human activities. In this essay I treat the objective of reduction in plastic based pollution on a theoretical level as I feel that it offers significant insight as to what would work and what needs to be done in order to create a practical meaningful impact on elimination of plastic based pollution. In order to unlock high yielding desirable outcomes of plastic usage reduction, the narrative needs to weave progressive socio-economic rationale into the comprehensive message calling for elimination of plastic based pollution. This approach leverages the progressive nature of environmental preservation by linking it with progressive trends in socio-economic and political landscape. On this count, I find legal enactments as a bulwark of reducing plastic based pollution to be of limited utility due to inherently restrictive and minimalistic nature of legal norms, thus while legal norms are imperative to establish basic thresholds of permitted activities, an excessive reliance on legal norms to combat plastic based pollution suffer from diminishing marginal utility. In simplest of terms, while law is adept at defining what are impermissible, legal norms are quite inept at promoting or channelizing collaborative innovation in elimination of such impermissible actions or omissions. I sincerely believe that a substantial aspect of efforts on reducing plastic based pollution must be laid on streamlining lifestyle choices of individuals with environmental sensitivities. In light of limited impact of minimalistic legal prescriptions, the role of community based action is paramount in moulding popular behaviour and choices prevalent in the society. One of the prominent causes for the increase in plastic production is the rise of plastic packaging in form of plastic straws, grocery bags, plastic utensils etc. A popular substitute of plastic carrying bag is jute bags which are made of vegetable fibre that can be spun into strong threads rendering them extremely durable while being biodegradable and compostable. The greater use of jute as plastic bag also promotes economic prosperity of farmers and mill workers associated with jute industry. A community based action would also alleviate information vacuums that frustrate individual level action against plastic based pollution. Not all types of plastic can be recycled, even among those which can be recycled, there process are far from uniform and are dependent upon type of waste management machinery that is available for recycling of plastic. It is clear that recycling of plastic requires tailor made solutions to cater to local recycling needs; a proper determination of such needs as well as effective functioning of such recycling unit is a task that is well suited to Community based action. In addition, the scope of linking of recycling units can be explored to reduce proliferation of mismanaged plastic waste in the society. Additionally, tax incentives and grants to Self Help groups in setting up recycling units would integrate the narrative of economic upliftment with environmental protection. The key here is to bring home the message that environmental preservation is also economically and socially progressive, the myth of mutual exclusivity only frustrates consensus and shuns environmental preservation down the list of priorities for the state as well as citizens who are more keen on tangible economic advancement. While the reliance on future tech to offer solutions is not misplaced, I place greater stress on an individual’s ability to self-regulate conduct regarding environmental consequences of his actions or omissions. Our Inability, either intentional or borne out of ignorance, to foresee the impact of our actions on environment is definitely a failing; however, our reluctance to take strong action even after being aware of the disastrous consequences due to inconsiderate and insular pursuance of self- interest is a failing without redemption. The missing element in our efforts to eliminate plastic based pollution is synchronisation of actions intended towards the same ends; it is no longer sustainable to conceptualize environmental preservation as an isolated sphere devoid of any interaction with other elements of human activities. To put it poetically, in order for our actions towards environmental preservation to be meaningful, they must form a melody that is soothing to the ear instead of being a haphazard collection of notes that frustrate real progress under the guise of ‘action’ being taken and which is thoroughly out of tune regarding the magnitude and nature of crisis that looms in front of humanity.

5 Comments

  • Aman Gangwar says :
    congratulations.
    Posted 31-10-2018 19:43

Manjesh Jha

  • Manjesh Jha says :
    Congratulations ankur.
    Posted 31-10-2018 19:39

Kajal Saini

  • Kajal Saini says :
    Congratulations Ankur.
    Posted 26-10-2018 12:49

Archa B Jayan

  • Archa B Jayan says :
    Congratulations !!!
    Posted 24-10-2018 00:34

Viraaj Kulshreshtha

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