The Plastic Apathy

My dear friend Javed shared this video on our WhatsApp group and it made many of us emotional…

Do watch the video and wonder about the kind of world we are creating for our children – no trees, no colorful flowers plastic filled oceans, plastic flowers, plastic plates, plastic LIFE. As it is our children are panicking as they see the “blue screen” rather than rejoicing by looking up at the blue sky because they never look up. I wonder how many children in developed countries have visited a farm and know that cows give milk… most of them know milk comes from a supermarket shelf or someone delivers a plastic pouch in the morning. How many children walk to their school anymore ? Also the ham slices and tinned fish has made it easy for everyone to eat a lot of non-vegetarian food because you never see a live animal being butchered. More non-veg means more green house gases, more water resources drained, more global warming… and the plastic bag that you threw out into the ocean will come back on your plate in the form of the fish because it ingested that plastic bag.

A stunning cover by National Geographic that shows what our plastic apathy is doing to the Earth and its non-human inhabitants –

Javed and I studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Happy Valley Shillong … and we walked or took a bus and then walked from some place. If we had an army truck as a school bus, then we still played outside. We had steel or aluminium tiffin boxes – the plastic boxes had just made their appearance, but our mothers were skeptical about using them except to give us biscuits or some dry stuff. I still remember the plastic colorful lunch box that my dear friend Geetu would get to school … but no plastic spoons. We always had steel spoons or ate with our hands. Today children get food in schools (hopefully in steel trays) with water being served in a disposable plastic water bottle and the servers using plastic gloves for hygiene !!! We would drink off the tap and all of us are turning 50 this year or the next and we are in good health. We would dust off the dirt and eat anything that fell on the ground. None of us had childhood obesity like today’s children – we didn’t have a phone or iPad to look down at, we didn’t have a car dropping us to school, we certainly didn’t have air-conditioned classrooms nor did we have Moms fussing over our food and buying us pizzas to quell a tantrum.

Plastic and junk food have become so ubiquitous in our lives that we hardly can function without them. While junk food atleast has an alternative – good wholesome food, plastic it seems has none.

A great move has been made by the Maharashtra government to ban plastic bags, plastic cutlery etc. The ban has become effective from yesterday. While many people spoke of how industries will be shut down overnight and how the plastic bag manufacturers will be affected … its still a great move to leave behind an Earth that our children can live in. Read about whats allowed and what’s not –

We have completely stopped using plastic bags. We carry around cloth bags that can be reused over and over again. But the challenge is what another of my environmentally sensitive friend Ganesh mentioned in a FB post – all the pre-packaged groceries come in plastic bags !! The day that I order groceries from Big Basket or the neighbourhood store my house is inundated with plastic bags – wheat flour, rice, lentils, salt, jaggery, spices, coffee, tea – each and every thing is in a plastic bag. How do we get rid of these bags? Its a tough change to go back to our old system where the grocery stores sold everything by weight and wrapped in a newspaper or a cloth bag. I think every packaged grocery item has to be in a jute or cotton pouch. The cost may go up but the city dwellers who want the comfort of packaged stuff can afford to pay more. The villagers still buy by weight and use cloth bags or wrap stuff in a newspaper.

Watch this next video that has been doing the rounds on how to minimise the use of “one-time-use” plastic in your everyday life –

We have implemented all the ideas – we carry our own water bottles, our own steel cutlery, steel tumblers and plates besides cloth bags.

I remember my paternal grandmother would carry a small steel tumbler with her everywhere – if she had to drink tea or coffee, she would simply ask the shopkeeper to pour it in that tumbler. She ate on leaf plates and ate with her hands so there was no need for any cutlery. Her carbon footprint was zero or she left the piece of Earth that she owned a lot greener than how she inherited it…. think of that when you reach out for a plastic bag.

My friend Hareesh had come home for a couple of days last year just to eat the Delhi street food. He lives in  the US. Every time I told him I will order the food in, he would say, no, lets go there and eat, otherwise they will send things over in plastic containers. We were happy with that. Whats interesting is that “Zomato”, the app that lets you order food has introduced the option of refusing plastic cutlery. While I click that option every time, some restaurants still send plastic spoons and forks, thats how strong the plastic addiction is.

Do we need plastic de-addiction centres?

#CarryClothBags #SayNoToPlasticCutlery #WatchYourCarbonFootprint

2 thoughts on “The Plastic Apathy”

  1. Bindu,
    Thanks for sharing. The inundation by plastic appalls me, too. I’m glad the world is waking up to the “overkill.” I carry my own reusable cup everywhere, and shop with a collection of canvas bags, when I shop at all. At the grocery store, I avoid plastic packaging and boxed food as much as possible. I put only my wallet in the bag, fill it with to-be-purchased items, then dump it all out on the check-out counter, so don’t buy more than I can easily carry.

    I watch what other people buy. Gallons of bottled water, soft drinks, fruit juices in plastic containers. Processed and boxed food. No wonder people are fat, unhealthy, and broke.

    It would be nice if there were ways to re-use some of these containers to buy food, like yogurt or milk in bulk, like a bulk yogurt dispenser, in the stores.

    • I use the Yoghurt tubs as planters Katharine. In India we do get curds in mud pots in some places, but most of the cities, its plastic containers that they sell curd/yoghurt in. In smaller towns and villages in India, Milk is brought in large containers and you can buy whatever quantity you want in your utensil, but almost everywhere you have the plastic pouch still. That needs to go. Actually milk itself needs to go – but thats a whole another discussion :):).


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