World Environment Day: How home owners can say no to plastics


On this World Environment Day, we look at how home owners can make small but significant changes to their lifestyle, to reduce the pollution caused by plastic wastes

It is a well-known fact that plastic is a major contributor towards pollution, with waste reaching landfills, beaches, rivers and oceans. Plastic pollution is a growing problem for plants, animals, marine life and humans. In view of this, there are many ways in which home owners can avoid using plastic items and contribute to improving the environment.

 

The alternative to plastics

“It is important, as a consumer, to be conscious and aware of the choices we make. We have reached a stage, where we have to compulsorily avoid using plastics. However, avoiding plastic does not mean throwing away all the plastic jars and containers that one has. On can also find ways to reuse it,” says filmmaker Sruti Harihara Subramanian of Chennai, who runs Goli Soda – a retail store that provides a platform to inventors and designers who want to contribute to the environment and society through eco-friendly products.

When you buy items, avoid plastic and think how it can be substituted with other options. For example, avoid plastic scrubbers for utensils and opt for coir ones. Instead of plastic toothbrushes, use bamboo ones and use bamboo straws,” suggests Subramanian.

 

Reduce, reuse and recycle

As urban India struggles with waste management, segregating the waste at the source, can lead to a reduction in the plastic waste that is dumped in landfills. Monisha Narke, founder and CEO, RUR (Are you Reducing Reusing Recycling) Green Life Pvt Ltd maintains that waste management should begin at home, through segregation.

“Reducing, is crucial to ensuring that waste is managed effectively. When shopping, opt for larger volumes for shampoos, detergents, oils, etc., to reduce packaging waste. Today, if one orders even a small item online, it is packaged in a lot of plastic. So, make a list and order multiple items at one go in a month, instead of multiple times a week, to reduce plastic packaging material. Whether it is the detergent or grocery that we use every day, it can be bought in bulk from stores, using refillable containers or cloth bags,” adds Narke.

See also: World Environment Day: Celebrating people who made eco-friendly choices

 

How housing complexes can reduce the generation of plastic waste

Change is possible and we can achieve a lot, if we work together, says Mumbai-based celebrity make-up artist, Bianca Louzado. Plastics products can affect our health in many ways. Heating or cooking food in a plastic container, is believed to release certain chemicals. This can make the water in the bottle or food in plastic containers harmful to some extent, adds Louzado. A resident of Andheri, Louzado started a crusade against plastic products. Along with other members of her society, she ran an awareness campaign among 175 families of her housing complex and shopkeepers and grocery shop owners in the vicinity.

“Initially, we distributed pamphlets, highlighting the correlation between plastic usage and cancer, endocrine disruptions and other illnesses. Then, with the help of NGOs, we made cotton bags of various sizes for the residents. Now, our society has a waste collection system, where all the plastic items from households are collected in a separate bin for a month and it is disposed of, when a recycling unit truck comes for collection. Recently, our society handed over around 700 kgs of plastic to a recycling company,” explains Louzado, who advises home owners to consciously choose items that come in non-plastic, recycled and recyclable packaging.

 

Tips to minimise the use of plastic items

  • Plan your monthly shopping and carry different cloth bags with you. Do not buy fruits or vegetables that are packaged in plastic bags or boxes, or wrapped with plastic.
  • As far as possible, use steel or glass containers in the kitchen. Replace plastic water bottles with steel bottles. Use traditional earthen pots to store water, at home.
  • Segregate the household waste and compost the wet garbage. Do not throw plastics into the dustbin and instead, send discarded plastic items to recycling units.
  • For take-away from restaurants, carry your own steel tiffin boxes and refuse plastic boxes.
  • For parties and picnics, use biodegradable plates, bowls, spoons and cups.
  • Substitute plastic with other materials wherever possible – for example, when buying a brush, utensil scrubber, or cloth hangers.
  • For dustbins, use newspapers or biodegradable bin liners, instead of plastic dustbin bags.
  • On the dining table, use cloth and eco-friendly table mats.

 

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