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Essay

Aldrin Aujero

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

Comments 12 Comments    recommendations 3 recommendations

Beat Plastic Pollution

 

Aldrin Aujero (Philippines)

Samsung Engineering Prize

 

Death wasn’t kind. Daisy didn’t know that. 10 minutes before her surgery, my 6-year old Beagle was desperately struggling for air to feed her now fully-numbed body. Her lifeless limbs hung loosely over the metal table now covered in green linen. Her drained eyes spoke of the exhaustion of her instinctive acts of survival as she battled nature’s very call to put her into indefinite sleep.

The day Daisy died was the very same day I first visited Pasig river. The renowned river was a quintessential symbol of the country’s culture. The glorious translucent blues of the water coupled with the tranquil atmosphere of birds and fish thriving in abundance is immortalized in paintings. But the view is a lot different today. Mountains of grocery plastic bags and empty Coca-Cola bottles and red striped straws scourge the now lethally intoxified river. Its once bright blue waters has now aged into a thick greyish, greasy, green form of mucus.
*
5 minutes before the surgery, Daisy’s frail body began to succumb to the anaesthesia. Her breathing slacked into a steady, somber rhythm. Her fresh grassy-green eyes, now moist with stingy brine from all the pain, slowly sealed closed as her body gave way to numbness.

Numb – that was what the people of Manila are to the reality facing the Pasig River. In spite of all the tangible repercussions of diseases stemming from water pollution, of flooding caused by the clogging of waterways due to plastics, in spite of all these wake-up calls from nature, little action has been taken to address the core issue of the crisis. The state of people’s mind is not under anaesthesia though – there is no overnight surgery that can solve the plastic crisis. What we have is a deep trance-like coma.
**
1 minute before the surgery started, my mom and I were escorted out of the room. The vet was armed with his scalpels and scissors and took a full hour before finishing the surgery. His face was dismal and his eyes were fixated glumly on our shoes when he walked out of the surgery room. Drawing his surgery mask down, he lifted his face and locked his vacant eyes with ours. “I’m sorry”, he mumbled. He drew a ziplock bag full of greasy black chunks of what seemed like Daisy’s organs. “Which … organs are thes– ?” I asked but the doctor shook his head. “These are the undigested plastics collected from her stomach. The sharp plastic edges pierced through the linings of her intestines, causing immense internal bleeding... We tried our best,” the doctor replied, his eyes now averted from ours. I took one last glance of Daisy’s lifeless body and the heap of plastics from her organs.

That was the first time I understood the real gravity of plastic pollution problem.

Before Daisy died, the issue of plastics was something that was so distant and disconnected to me. While noble, it just seemed so irrelevant. But all that changed. Whenever I pass by the Pasig river, the place where Daisy last went to before she died, I remember how cleaning up those plastics mean more than just another charitable action. True, my efforts alone aren’t sufficient in solving the entire problem in Pasig, let alone the other rivers in the Philippines. But what Daisy’s death made me realize was that with every plastic item that I pick up, with every plastic bottle that I recycle, and with every plastic straw that I refuse, I am delivering the lives of dogs, birds, fishes and even humans out of death’s ways way.
***
But my actions alone aren’t enough to solve the problem.

This is the reason why I started Project SWAP – a social enterprise that aims to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the community by providing innovative and high-quality plastic-based products that create a market for disposed plastic items and an incentive for people to avoid improperly disposing their plastic wastes. Project SWAP turns waste into profit through sustainable recycling practices. SWAP creates an array of consumer-facing stationery and household products created from recycled plastic materials.

One such example is the SWAP Pencil Case, designed and created by myself. It is a pencil case made of recycled plastic bottle materials with a zipper attached to enclose the case with the bottom part of another plastic bottle, creating a sealed, compact and practical pencil case.

Another example is the SWAP Eco-Bags, a concept that is modified from other sources but is still as effective. The eco-bags are made from plastic straws that are weaved together, creating a durable, light and sustainable bag perfect for grocery and market shoppings.

By answering the “why” and the “how” plastic pollution should be prevented, I hope that I’ve inspired you all to take part in beating plastic pollution!

 


Reference Photos:

reference photos
 

 

12 Comments

Aldrin Aujero

Manjesh Jha

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

Aman Gangwar

  • Aman Gangwar says :
    Congratulations!
    Posted 31-10-2018 19:36

Kanishka Thakur

Neha Singh

  • Neha Singh says :
    Congratulations.
    Posted 30-10-2018 02:06

Muskan Priya

Vineeta Gaine

Dikhsa Negi

  • Dikhsa Negi says :
    Congratulations.
    Posted 24-10-2018 21:24

Kajal Saini

  • Kajal Saini says :
    Congratulations!
    Posted 24-10-2018 15:35

Archa B Jayan

  • Archa B Jayan says :
    Congrats !!!.... That was a really great and motivating initiative and all the very best for your journey ahead.
    Posted 24-10-2018 00:04

Pio  Mwita

  • Pio Mwita says :
    I almost cried while reading this.... It's impressive
    Posted 22-10-2018 21:51

Viraaj Kulshreshtha

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