Today is the World Environment Day that is celebrated on the fifth day of June since 1972. Like anyone’s birthday or anniversary, it is a day to remember the environment. The word ‘Environment’ is derived from the French root ‘environs’ meaning ‘surroundings’. Keeping it plastic-free is only the focus of this year. Planting trees helps to make our environment greener and our air cleaner besides attracting more rain and helping it to percolate in the soil. Plant at least one seedling of a native tree and nurture it through your lifetime. It is a living memorial, better than a tombstone or a niche in the cemetery.
India is a land of ironies. The central and state governments promote the use of plastics in agriculture with huge subsidies on polythene-clad greenhouses and polythene mulch for almost every crop under hi-tech agriculture. Post mortem examination reveals that stray cows have a stomach filled with plastic bags that is swallowed while gleaning food from the garbage heaps. Our sewerage lines and even rivulets get choked with plastic waste. Even as Goa’s major towns like Panaji, Mapusa, Margao and Vasco battle against disposable plastic carry-bags, India will play the global host of WED 2018 with the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. It is almost like a case of ‘If you can’t beat them, join then.’
Consider the staggering data: The world uses 500 billion plastic bags a year and half of them are of single use. Eight million tons of garbage finds its way into the rivers and oceans that is one truckload every minute. We drink clean water from plastic bottles and then pollute the rivers with a million bottles we buy each minute somewhere in the world. The polycarbonate bottles used for mineral water cannot be recycled unlike the pet bottles of soft drinks. One can do great service to the environment by just carrying two things: a re-usable water bottle and a re-usable bag. One has a choice of steel, glass or even plastic bottle that can be re-used. A cloth bag is the most convenient to use and also carry around when not being used.
Plant a garden even if it is a few potted plants in which you grow curry-patta, green chillies, lemon grass, tulsi, flowering or leaf ornamental plants in your third floor balcony. If you do, you are a greater environmentalist than the one who delivers thunderous speeches or makes power point presentations without ever having grown a plant, carried a cloth shopping bag or used a re-usable water bottle. Your life is also a better celebration of WED than an event with pious posturing that ends with a snack served in a paper napkin and a tetra pack of juice or tea served in a plastic cup. Yes, there will be many such thoughtless celebrations in India while playing the global host to ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.
The WED draws our attention to our surroundings, wherever we may be: home, office, market, road, waterfall, beach or any picnic spot. Let us keep Goa free from plastics, broken bottles and garbage decaying on the roadsides. Let others learn from our example.