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Beating plastic pollution

Beating plastic pollution

Professor Dr Mathew Koshy Punnackad

05 June 2018 12:44PM


On World Environment Day, the honorary director for ecological concerns in the Church of South India, Professor Dr Mathew Koshy Punnackad, offers his thoughts on pollution from plastic.

World Environment Day, on 5 June, is the “people’s day” for doing something to take care of the Earth. The theme for 2018 is beating plastic pollution.

Plastic Pollution facts:

  • Every year the world uses 500 billion plastic bags.

  • Each year, at least eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans, the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute.

  • In the last decade, we produced more plastic than in the whole last century.

  • Fifty per cent of the plastic we use is single-use or disposable.

  • We buy one million plastic bottles every minute.

  • Plastic makes up 10 per cent of all of the waste we generate.

Supermarkets love it. Environmentalists hate it.

A rare novelty in the 1970s, plastic shopping bags are now an omnipresent global product, produced at a rate of one trillion a year. They are showing up in the darkest depths of the oceans to the summit of Mount Everest to the polar ice caps – and creating some major environmental challenges. And almost everyone uses them. Polythene is the world’s most popular plastic and is used widely in the manufacture of food packaging, carrier bags, plastic pipes, electrical cable insulation and even artificial hips. Because it takes several centuries to biodegrade, polythene is loathed by environmentalists and the polythene bag has become a symbol of humankind’s pollution of the planet.

The tiny state of Sikkim banned disposable plastic bags. Nestled in the Himalayas in north-eastern India, Sikkim has been leading a green revolution of its own. Despite being small and isolated, and with its people leading their lives in extremely tough mountainous terrain, Sikkim has emerged as one of India’s environmental leaders. Sikkim, which in 1998 became the first Indian state to ban disposable plastic bags, is also among the first to target single-use plastic bottles.

In 2016, Sikkim took two major decisions. It banned the use of packaged drinking water in government offices and government events. Second, it banned the use of styrofoam and thermocol disposable plates and cutlery in the entire state in a move to cut down toxic plastic pollution and tackle its ever-increasing garbage problem. Nilgiri District in Tamilnadu, India, also banned plastic bags.

CSI World Environmental Day Celebrations.

Professor P J Kurian, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, will inaugurate the World Environment Day Celebration of CSI Synod at Chennai on 5 June 2018. Ms Sunita Narain, Director of the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, will deliver the keynote address. The Moderator Bishop and the office bearers of CSI Synod will also give an address during the event which will be attended by 150 teachers, 50 clergy and 50 students. CSI Synod will honour fifty schools, which participated actively in environmental programmes in 2017. The Synod will also honour teachers who have made a remarkable contribution to the environment. The WED celebration will culminate with a commitment to save the earth from pollution.

What we will do:

  • Never throw rubbish, chemicals or solvents into storm drains or sewers.

  • Stop using disposable shopping bags and other single-use plastic.

  • Never burn waste and minimise the burning of wood.

  • Let my electronics live longer, then dispose of them properly or resell them.

  • Compost and recycle.

  • Use public transport, carpool, cycle or walk.

  • Eat more organic and unpackaged foods.

  • Refuse to buy cosmetics with microbeads.

  • Choose natural cleaning products and lead-free paint.

  • Use organic pesticides and fertilisers efficiently. 

  • Use clean technologies to light and power home, such as solar and wind energy.

  • We propagate and practice rainwater harvesting.

  • Plant saplings wherever possible.

We believe that spirituality without ecological concern has no meaning.


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