How you can save the planet with these 5 easy steps: Just reduce plastic use

While there are many ways to do your bit for the planet, start with banning and banishing the plastic monster which will otherwise choke our very existence.

 |  3-minute read |   04-06-2019
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Signs of unprecedented damage to the planet we call home have begun showing, in the form of severe climate change, with species declining and even going extinct, and the darkness of pollution steadily spreading.

But it is still not too late.

There are small changes you — yes, indeed, you — can bring about in your lifestyle to do your bit to save the planet.

There are simple and very effective ways to immediately reduce plastic waste that, once generated, stays on the planet for thousands of years (depending on the plastic grade) and eventually enters the food chain to land in your intestines.

Here are five small changes to your lifestyle that you can do to banish the scourge of plastic:

1. It has been said forever now and the government has also started banning or imposing a cess on it. But the bane of polythene bags refuses to leave us. While it might not always be possible to carry a cloth/jute bag, consider stocking three or four jute bags in your car’s boot for any impromptu shopping.

2. Unless there’s some kind of crisis, do not buy plastic water bottles — keep a refillable bottle handy. If you have bought a plastic water bottle, reuse it. There are plenty of refilling stations that supply clean water in almost all public places where you can refill those bottles.

main_plastic-bottles_051319035301.jpgThe great wall of plastic bottles: These end up in our landfills and stay there for generations to come. (Photo: Reuters)

3. Refuse plastic cutlery when you order food — metal cutlery is almost always available at the office or home. Refuse use-and-throw plastic plates. Restaurants almost always stock on biodegradable plates, but do not offer it until asked for as these are more expensive. 

4. Say no to a straw when you next order that juice or milkshake. If you must use straws, buy a metal one. You can rinse and reuse it. While on the topic, consider keeping your own mug in the drawer and using it when you step out to have coffee at the vending machine or the office cafeteria.

main_polythene-bags-_051319035447.jpgWith no proper segregation and waste management systems, plastic in our landfills is overflowing. (Photo: Getty Images)

5. While it might be difficult for new mothers to change their babies' nappies so often, do spare a thought for Mother Earth and consider minimising the use of diapers. Besides adding to non-biodegradable landfills, diapers can also leave your babies with nasty rashes. Instead, switch to comfortable cotton nappies that can be washed and reused.

main_diapers-gettyim_051319051816.jpgThe crap bag that never leaves the planet — diapers. (Photo: Getty Images)

Along the same lines, ladies, you can make your periods waste-free. According to the Menstrual Hygiene Alliance of India (MHAI), there are approximately 121 million sanitary pad users in India. Assuming each woman uses eight pads per period (conservatively) and menstruates 12 cycles in a year, the number of pads in the landfills per year is 8*12*121million = 11.6 billion pads.

That translates to 113,000 tonnes of non-biodegradable menstrual waste annually.

Apart from the fact that it cannot be recycled, the exposed sanitary napkin poses grave health risks for sanitary workers — most of whom do not even a proper pair of gloves to handle the waste.

The number of options in the market is unbelievable — from menstrual cups (I personally swear by the convenience these offer, indeed, the life-changing experience it has been!) to reusable pads.

Believe us, doing your bit for the planet takes only a tiny level of extra planning and extra empathy. With great results.

Also read: Trash on the menu: From scouring forests to a diet of 'fast foods', we are ruining the eating habits of wild animals and birds

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