Recently, the government of India announced a ban on single use plastic (SUP). This ban is supposed to cover all plastic items which have low utility and extensive littering potential. The list of items include plastic carry bags below a defined thickness, plastic food packing materials, PVC banners, plastic crockery and many others. The road to development can be paved with many hurdles and setbacks. A similar move in the past failed but this time it seems that the government has a strong resolve and the society too is aware of the need to protect the environment.
Recent researches have even found microplastics inside the placenta of a human body. The reports of plastic inside marine life and animals are endless. The impact of these microplastics inside our bodies is serious enough to have finally woken up even the western governments to think of actions. Thankfully, directly and indirectly it will also serve to protect mother earth for the future generations of humans and all life forms.
We talked to Mr. Ramesh Chaurasia, a philanthropist and entrepreneur who is known to work for the upliftment of underprivileged communities in India. He is an environmentalist and nature lover who cares deeply about the environment.
“The current situation of plastic pollution in our country is grave. You can find plastic just everywhere. I have seen pictures of mountain tops and river sides littered with plastic. It has reached everywhere where humans have reached. Maybe even further. Plastic pollution has penetrated even the remotest parts of our country. It is not that people don’t see the effects of plastic pollution. Animals are eating plastic, drains are choked and overflowing due to plastic and even our fields where we grow our food are littered with plastic since it flows everywhere. However, we must fight this and find better alternatives” Mr. Ramesh Lakhulal Chaurasia talks about the problem of single use plastic pollution.
He adds, “Plastic pollution is not just a visual problem. It deeply affects our living environment and has devastating effects both in the short and long term. Not just humans, but all animals are affected due to this problem. Land and marine ecosystems are getting battered because there is just so much plastic out there. It is more than you can imagine. You just need to take a look around you to understand the situation.”
Talking about the health aspects of this, the environmentalist says, “It has been found in many studies that microplastics in human blood streams can be the potential causes of oxidative stress and DNA damage which are considered to be the reasons for many chronic and debilitating diseases. Such exposure can also lead to chronic inflammation, may impact male fertility, and cause many other diseases. Such single use plastics are very likely to be embedded with toxic dyes and pigments and these can also release toxic compounds during degradation.”
Mr. Ramesh Chaurasia believes that we can support this ban on single use plastic and overcome this problem with the help of science and innovation.
One of the alternatives to single use plastic is Bagasse which is a by product of sugarcane. It is perfect to create eco-friendly and bio-degradable packaging. Another alternative is the use of bio-plastics which can be sustainably produced and used to make cutlery, bottles and other disposable and biodegradable materials. Materials like bamboo can be used to create sustainable packaging materials. These alternatives can also generate new employment opportunities and promote cottage industries.
The visionary believes that a lot of things can be done on the local level to support the ban of single use plastics.
He says, “We have to encourage people to stop the use of plastic by coming up with reward systems. We can create plastic free villages by spreading awareness among people about the dangers of single use plastic on people’s health. We can encourage the use of washable and re-usable cloth bags in villages and towns. We can educate and involve children in cleanliness drives. If our children are aware of the risks and dangers of this problem, they are less likely to contribute to it in the future. We might sit all day and talk about problems and they will keep coming up. I believe that we can say the same thing about solutions. We just need to start a discussion and solutions will appear.”