To raise awareness about the environment and specific environmental issues, every year June 5 is celebrated as World Environment Day, as designated by the United Nations (UN). With ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ being the theme this year, NT BUZZ speaks to a few people to know why we are unable to tackle the ‘plastic problem’ so far, despite efforts, and about other major pollutants that we need to train our sights on
RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT BUZZ
For a healthy living, it is also important that we take care of the environment. A lot of initiatives have been taken to enable a more responsible citizenry to conduct themselves and treat the environment. Though efforts are being made regularly to create awareness about pollution and to curb it, the reality shows that enough is not being done.
NT BUZZ finds out what measures can be taken to step up our efforts to put an end to, or at least reduce, the menace of pollution. While the theme of World Environment Day 2018 is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution,’ plastic isn’t the only pollutant that we are plagued with.
Lack of public cooperation and participation is a major reason for failure of various environmental programs. Everyone is a stakeholder as we are all inhabitants of this Mother Earth. Each person can contribute something towards the mitigation of environmental pollution. Some of these are: make sustainable choices with regards to transport, food, and energy; follow the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Apart from plastic, other major pollutants are: carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide –from fuel combustion in vehicles, electric utilities, industrial boilers, etc; lead – from combustion of leaded gasoline in engines, metal refineries, water incinerators, battery manufacturing, etc. Every action or inaction of any person with regards to her or his surroundings has an effect, be it good, neutral or bad, on the environment. By becoming aware and doing the right action, we choose to be part of the solution.”
Alina Prithviraj Naik Desai, student, Fatorpa
We should first respect our environment today and always but at the same time everyone must know that we, humans, are responsible for polluting our environment. Today we say plastic is major problem but the biggest question is we are sidelining other things which pollutes our environment. Few days back, I was in Mumbai and witnessed two young boys throwing out food, socks and unwanted clothes in a small lake which is connected with major pipelines from that particular area. I tried to stop them but they were out of control and the next day the entire area was had a foul smell because of the pollution. We should also keep in mind the pollution caused by vehicles on road that were much less 20 years back. We enjoy our day-to-day life with plastic, vehicles, etc, but forget about its impact on our own life after years of exposure to pollution. Today, we have various diseases and as per study, these occur mostly because of dirt in our surroundings. It is high time and a need of the hour to come together and stay united so that we can beat pollution to save our environment and also help us to save our own life.”
Saidutt Kamat, voice actor, cricket commentator and writer, Curchorem
My definition of pollution would be: ‘The havoc caused in the environment due to human activities, which ironically causes havoc back in human life is pollution’. Everyone knows about the major forms of pollution but other forms include: thermal pollution, visual pollution and noise pollution, the last one being more dangerous than it sounds. Nature in itself has not been designed to harm anybody. It has its own ways of getting things done. But, when humans intervene in this process, every time, for personal selfish reasons, havoc is ensured. It is true that we are now trying to redeem ourselves. But naming a day for the environment or having rallies are not really the way to go. In order to do something worthwhile to reduce pollution, we should start acting towards it as a species and not as individuals. Here, if 100 people are planting trees, 100 construction workers are cutting them. Besides, building more houses is leading to people with big houses buying bigger ones and the homeless still lying on the streets. If all of us start doing a little share of the work, pollution and its effects can be handled very easily. Baby steps are all it is going to take. So I think that each and every individual can contribute to this cause by following very simple rules like not throwing garbage in water bodies, honking less on the roads, planting a tree every time it is possible, travelling through public transport more, and that is about all it is going to take to save our lives from the wrath of nature. We ourselves have led to our lives being in danger and it is high time we do something about it.
Nidhi Singbal, student, Panaji
Do we ever stop to think what you and I can do about this environment of ours? Is it healthy? The earth’s vital signs reveal a slow decline in health. Just like whenever someone dear to us is sick we rush them to the doctor, similarly our Mother Earth is dear to us. Today we have become more aware that we are a part of nature, and therefore, anything that harms the environment will also have a huge impact on us and the future generation, and also the other species around us. We must help it heal in whatever way possible. Every helpful hand does make a difference even if we all join in to do even the smallest thing. I’m definitely sure we would get our results and cause a positive change to our environment. Today, as we celebrate World Environment Day, let’s ask ourselves: Are we to leave our successors a scorched planet with advancing deserts, impoverished landscapes and an ailing environment? It is obligatory that we sustain so that our interests do not sabotage the generations that are to come.
Millennia Rose Barreto, student, Calangute
Why aren’t we following the plastic ban strictly? The use of paper or nylon shopping bags which can be reused in our day-to-day activities should be implemented. Plastic is something that cannot be decomposed easily and is often thrown at sea where the aquatic life is harmed. Why can’t businesses have cleanliness drives? With these small activities we would achieve great results. When it comes to other pollutants I would say cutting down trees for large projects, should be taken care of by implementing “plant a tree or sprout, every time we cut down one tree”. We need to make sure sign boards are put not to pollute our rivers and ponds; we should also take strict action against those who throw their garbage bags in the River Mandovi. Why not install CCTV where is needed? I would advice that people take up the cause themselves and let people follow you. You have to be the change to bring the change and save our environment.”
Clive De Souza, technical recruiter, Mapusa
I feel each of us needs to start with ourselves at home. We can’t keep waiting for some higher authority to come and pick up garbage or stop us from burning plastic and rubber. Each one of us needs to make the first move. It’s not hard work, its etiquette. We need to understand our interdependence with Mother Nature and that she needs us just as much as we need her to give us fresh air, clean water and food. One of the major pollutants after plastic is the endless fireworks nobody ever takes into account. It won’t reduce our celebrations in any way if we stop them, but it will cut down on the air pollution.”
Rosanne Barreto, teacher, Cansaulim
We seem to be living in the world infected with ‘nobody cares’ virus. Our awareness programmes turn out to be more of showmanship and less action oriented. I feel the main reason for this attitude springs from the fact that nobody is held responsible and nobody is taken to task. Hence nobody cares! Immediate measures include that the authorities take the ‘Polluter Pays’ seriously. Since vigilance is an issue the authorities could be more creative by rewarding the complainants who provide evidence against the polluters. We Indians need a change of ‘attitude’ to go beyond merely observing thematic days like Environment Day, Earth Day, Water Day, etc. We need to turn to bio-treatment for better control. A lot of research is being made in this field and authorities as well as citizens in general should support such initiatives. The major pollutant is our ‘insensitive attitude’ and ‘use and throw away’ culture. Nowadays, with booming construction activities being unsustainably undertaken I see construction debris as one of the major pollutants. Release of domestic sewage into water bodies is going unnoticed.”
Fr Bolmax Pereira, Parish priest of Nerul Church
All change begins with the self. We must adopt changes where we consciously reduce, recycle and reuse. It is not difficult to adopt, lead and practice a pollution-free lifestyle. As consumers we can make choices that negate buying products with loads of packaging and use more of organic and natural products. We must also share our learning about the toxicity of plastic in the environment and how it directly impacts us. I recently visited Khola beach and the spring in Betul and was horrified to see the beach littered with all kinds of non-biodegradable waste strewn by picnickers. How can we do this? We are leaving behind garbage in such pristine natural environments and have completely silenced our conscience. Instead of school children having cleanliness drives of our backyards, we must collaborate and get our fellow citizens to take ownership and clean our surroundings. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is not possible if we do not awaken our conscience and begin with a Swachh Abhiyan from within with clean thoughts and clean attitudes. Sewage in our water bodies is also another big concern. We are the polluters and it’s time we change our attitudes and take action and effect positive change.”
Tallulah D’Silva, environmentalist, Caranzalem
Improper management of garbage, plastics, sewage, industrial waste, vehicle and coal-based power plants, clearance of forests and green cover, and overly built concrete cities are some examples of major pollutants. Every citizen need to be educated and made aware of the litter that is doing harm to our environment. Thereafter, every society, industry, business and government should make collaborative efforts on every front.
Walter Mascarenhas, corporate trainer and motivational speaker, Bambolim
Many measures are said to be taken but they are not done sincerely. Instead of restricting the use of plastic why not ban the manufacturing of plastic. We must encourage the production of jute or paper bags. Make arrangements to collect the existing plastics from the public by putting up bins everywhere. Money spent on bins is better and cheaper than engaging lots of people to go around and collect them. But ensure that they are emptied periodically and disposed in a proper manner. The other aspect is waste being thrown openly which could have been avoided if bins are available. We can see waste being cleaned from canals and drains and piled up on the edges. Delay in removing them pushes it back to the same place. Smoke from fires lit to burn the thrash in every compound and field could have been collected and destroyed in a scientific manner without causing much pollution. Good public transport can avoid individual four- and two-wheelers thus saving pollution from them.”
Sherine Stephenson, graphic designer, Cansaulim
(With inputs from Sheras Fernandes)