Dr Khursheed Ahmad Wani
Every plastic waste that is in my backyard is due to my own fault, whether I will quench my thirst, fill my stomach, or make myself handsome, or I prefer a convenient life is all what I will get at the end is sack of plastic waste, either in the form of a plastic bottle, or wrapper, plastic box, or container, or the other that will depend what I have used. It is indeed even amazing when I see heaps of plastic waste around the academic and scientific institutions that are the preachers or against the use of these plastic items. They promote or their slogan is Reuse, recover or recycle, but it seems just a word, not a promise, a tentative nod of approval to rationalize the everyday choice we make, not buy chance, but by choice.
Sometimes, seniors in the institutions advise the students that all plastic or polythene wastes that are around the campus must be cleaned on a daily basis and if not on daily basis, at least once in a week. Students during one of the classes will come out and they can do it easily. But it is not always easy for them, because most of the students do not want to practice it at the cost of their valuable lectures, Perhaps they were right, as we were not able to ban this plastic waste from the source that is from the college canteen. There was no sink for this plastic where it could be reused or recycled. The sink here refers to waste bins. Although, we informed same to them, it was promised not with the students only but with us too. It never came and I hope it may not come in the coming months; neither will it be banned from the canteen. This is the case of one institution in the valley, and I believe there is a chain of this system in all academic institutions. Same situation is with this system everywhere, as the government is not willing to ban it from the source, so why they expect it from the citizens. They have rules and regulations that can be implemented so easily, although challenges may exist. But they do not care to implement it, but are happy to pass their orders and they know it will be a part of dustbin the next day. They are hence the real culprits of the environmental deterioration as they are handicapped to ban it from the source. Where are manufacturers going to acquire the recycled materials from when plastic recycling is a system that barely exists in this region? Although, there is an urgent need to design stuff that doesn’t have to be thrown away or down cycled but we need to keep plastic waste in the system and out of the fragile environment, and move towards a circular economy. Further, we need to massively improve and invest in recycling infrastructure, but also significantly reduce what we produce and use.’ However, here lies the heart of the issue. The plastic problem is a byproduct of consumerism – a culture that perfectly mixes the wishes of the economy and society. Wisdom to connect with and reduce what we consume not only confronts the plastic problem; it can also improve our society and culture as a whole. When a culture takes root, it nurtures, and we have been subtly instructed by a throwaway consumer culture that we have warmly held in our arms. Recycling is not and never will be the sole solution. We need to keep our promises, and should practice more than preaching. Until and unless, plastic is not banned from the manufacturers, policies, strategies, acts will not work.
The author teaches Environmental Science at
GDC Bijbehara and is associated with ALACC Naina. He can be reached at: [email protected]>