Having flown recently, one of the growing concerns we need to address is that of the covid-19 travel plastic waste. Not only is it undermined due to the severity of the various strains and double mutants the virus is showing, it is almost disregarded by many as they promptly remove their kits and gloves and toss them nonchalantly into the large bins in the terminal building.
The world is literally suffocating, at being choked with plastic consumption; it is burdened with environmental hazards, poor AQI. It has an increased ecological risk to its natural ecosystems due to disinfectants being sprayed to keep the virus at bay.. Are we by any means getting ready for another calamity of sorts?
India is already stressed with its current waste management systems. There is hardly any segregation of waste and in the event that there is, there is no effective and safe measure to incinerate this toxicity without causing further ecological damage. There is no regulated and timely trash pickup from houses, thereby causing people to simply throw their garbage out on a street dump.
It is a catch 22 situation that we are all faced with. We need it to protect ourselves, and yet also require to throw away all trace, as soon as we use it. There is no doubt that plastic has made life easier and safer but in the same breath, it has also created a global environment and sustainability crisis. So, in this scenario, how does one leverage the situation when we were already at war with plastic but are now compelled to treat the enemy as a much needed ally?
One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is perhaps creating affordable resources for all without causing devastating impacts in the world we live in. Like they say, every adversity also provides an equal opportunity. The need today is to research and create petroleum based plastic or use other natural biodegradable materials in place of single use plastic. There is a definite need and requirement to reduce our carbon footprints and until we don’t start by looking at our own, there is going to be very little we can do to stop the next pandemic which will one of plastic.
When we look at creating a product, it is imperative that we also look at its end. How is it going to be decomposed so as to not stock up our landfills? How can we make something that goes from ashes to ashes? What can we as individuals do to reduce plastic waste?
Our leaders are preoccupied with election bric a bracs. They are fuelling the sentiments of religion based politics and continuing to allow for large scale events. But the one most important thing that is being overlooked is that of the tonnes of covid-19 waste this is creating. If you ask me, we aren’t on the brink of another catastrophe, but are already midway into the Plastic Pandemic. And the only way to stop this is to sit up and take control of our own use, with effect immediately!
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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