I’ve always been an advocate against pollution. I’ve written about the impact plastic (something I don’t like) has on the ocean (something I really like) here and it is no surprise that Sri Lanka is on the top 5 list of plastic polluters to the ocean.
I took a stance to myself stating that I will reduce my contribution to the plastic wastage.
I believe that plastic cannot be eradicated right away, we can acheive it if managed better.
A reduction in plastic output, usage and wastage is an obtainable target than the downright banning of it. Since it has been invented and been in use for years it’s a bit difficult to go back on it. I also believe that change is achieved in generations, I’m not saying one shouldn’t act. It’s just that it’ll take time for the effects to take place.
I also believe that change is achieved in generations, I’m not saying one shouldn’t act. It’s just that it’ll take time for the effects to take place.
Make Saving the Earth Trendy
In Amsterdam and Berlin, every store charges you for plastic bags, forcing you to use cloth bags or reuse previously purchased plastic bags. This creates a fresh market for someone to start creating a line of bags that are designed with sustainable materials and trendy to be carried everywhere. I carry a black Generator Hostels bag which I picked up in Amsterdam as well as a smaller Tropenmuseum bag for if I do go to the supermarket or grocery store. Before it used to be a larger Booking.com bag with a slick, city skyline design.
The same mindset that makes people carry Coach handbags needs to be implemented on these cloth bags. For this to happen cloth bags need to be designed with relevance to every age, social and peer group; Superhero bags for the nerds, pop culture bags for the fashionable, Banksy for the arty types and motivational quotes for the corporate office chaps.
Another wastage comes in the form of plastic cups, lids and straws. A combination of all 3 has risen due to the growth of the on-the-go healthy living factor. Whilst it is admirable to substitute your sodas for fruit juices, ice cream sundaes for smoothie bowls and rice and curry for salads do keep an eye on the packaging. Fruit juices are served in the same plastic cups and straws as the sodas, salads and smoothies can come in plastic bowls. This may all be in the event of takeaway (in some instances it’s at dining in too), but wastage nonetheless.
The biggest issue with individuals who pollute is the lack of awareness. Again, it is a generational thing where many children have witnessed their parents discarding of rubbish in the wrong manner and as children do, pick up these habits. A government scale project, proper waste management, the dangers of plastic straws and cups and the benefits of recycling needs to be thought in school. With its implementation in the local school system and beyond soon there will be an entire generation of Sri Lankans who are aware of the impact of their waste.
Straws from Sri Lanka strangle turtles in the Bahamas, cups from Canada cut calamari off the coast of South Africa and lids from Lisbon disrupt eels in Brazil.
By creating this awareness we bring rise to another opportunity to market. Hard plastic cups with straws. Carry it inside your trendy cloth bag and you’ll be able to grab that healthy juice on the go with no guilty conscious and look cool when doing it.
In Sri Lanka, the first few times will generate strange looks, giggles and sometimes denial as vendors feel that giving me a disposable plastic cup is a benefit for me.
A well documented massive wastage of plastic is the amount they give at supermarkets. For every item, you tend to get a bag and then for all the items you get another big bag, or two if the check out counter deems it heavy. It’s reduced drastically at the supermarket I go to but the habit is to reach for a plastic bag even if you’re buying a single banana or an already wrapped item.
However, the local bakery that I frequent is run by a stingy old man that has been charging for plastic bags for the past 10 years. This he says is his way of giving back to the environment and more importantly not having to cough up for the bags himself. This has driven people around my neighbourhood to bring their own bags from home. This practice is what Sri Lanka was going to opt into many years ago but was lobbied against by obviously the plastic bag manufacturers.
The bottom line is as an individual you need to be aware of the rubbish you generate, take ownership of it, dispose of it responsibly and find ways of not generating unnecessary waste.