The greatest man made disaster towards green environment comes from use of plastic, especially the thin film variety. While touring vast areas of Southern India I was pleasantly surprised to see the strict enforcement of plastic ban. During my visit to Mahabaleshwar, Aurangabad, Pune last year, I have noticed awareness about ill effects of plastic. It is heartening to note that by and large India has become active in banning plastic totally. It is however deplorable that West Bengal turns a blind eye when it comes to banning and enforcement of the ban on thin film plastic. Must be vested interests are working against the interest of common people.
Partial ban on plastic bags that several local bodies in the country implemented at various stages has fallen flat so far primarily due to faulty implementation. Secondly, the non-availability of feasible alternatives has been dissuading administrators from opting for a complete ban. Cloth is the next choice, though the non-woven bags that pass off as cloth bags in most shops these days are equally or even more dangerous than plastic bags.
Plastic bags play a negative role in chocking the drainage system. Reuse old polythene bags. Make sure you do not burn polythene bags as they cause a lot of pollution. With so many options, finding the right alternative for plastic carry bags is a tricky matter and only large-scale awareness at the grass root level can ensure that another hazardous material does not substitute plastic.
Though paper is the first option, it cannot be counted as an environment-friendly option considering the large-scale destruction of trees for paper pulp and also because they cannot hold much weight. Though recycled paper bags have become a trend, common people may not find them pocket-friendly. Up-cycled paper bags using newspapers may be used for purposes other than packaging liquid and semi liquid products.
The third option is biodegradable plastic that comes in several varieties. There are starch-based bio plastics that are soluble in hot water. There is also compostable plastic that disintegrates and joins the soil within 90 to 180 days. Plastic bags, thermocol, disposable cups and plates, cutlery, non-woven polypropylene bags, plastic pouches and packaging are all banned.
Bamboo is one of the largest members of the grass family and is the fastest growing woody plant on the planet. Its growth rate varies according to the soil and climate, and is best known as a major food source for pandas. Bamboo is also used for culinary and medicinal purposes in many parts of the world, as well for construction materials, furniture, textiles, musical instruments, bicycles, clothing and more.
(The latter part of the article will continue tomorrow)
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)