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This Earth Day, Choose the Planet Over Plastic

Here are a few green suggestions to help reclaim the earth  from pollution and climate change

The theme of this Earth Day (April 22), is ‘Planet vs. Plastics’ and for a good reason. According to the recent Plastic Overshoot Day report by Switzerland’s consultancy research organisation EA Earth Action, the world is projected to exceed its capacity to manage plastic waste by September 5, 2024.  India ranks among the top 12 countries responsible for 60% of the world’s mismanaged plastic waste. The report clearly specifies that despite having the lowest per capita plastic waste production globally, “India is expected to generate 7.4 million tons of mismanaged plastic waste in 2024.” Mismanaged plastic waste poses the biggest threat to the environment and this year’s Earth Day hence very correctly pits the earth against plastic and asks us to make considered choices.

If you would like to do your bit  to nurture the planet’s health, here are a few green suggestions:

Refuse single-use plastic: An average of 85% of people polled worldwide in a survey commissioned by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and the Plastic Free Foundation have advocated for a global ban on single-use plastics. This survey comes ahead of  the Global Plastics Treaty negotiations that will unfold from April 23-29 in Ottawa, Canada. At the micro level, each one of us can refuse single use plastics like disposable cutlery, cups, straws, plastic bags, over packaged fruits and vegetables. Carrying our own cloth bags, water bottles, mugs, cutlery, steel straws when on the move and switching to  wooden toothbrushes, neem combs and plastic-free products can prevent an enormous amount of plastic from reaching landfills and oceans.

Be a conscious consumer: Last year, the state of New York sued a major beverage company for endangering public health and polluting upstate Buffalo River, through its single-use plastic bottles, caps and wrappers. All over the world , consumers are demanding that companies warn them   about the potential risks that their brands can cause to health and environment. We too can keep a few points in mind while shopping for toiletries, cosmetics, clothing brands and more. Are the products ethically made and gentle on the environment ? Does the company have a record of eco-friendly behaviour and policies? Is it investing in the health of the planet? When more of us begin to demand greener practices, corporations will have to pay heed.

Reduce, Reuse,Recycle: To break the cycle of over-consumption and generation of more waste than the planet can accommodate, we can all pause before we add more inessential items to our shopping carts. Instead of discarding objects, furniture, electronics etc, we can repair them. The new wave of designers is thankfully rethinking patterns of production and consumption.  They are creating  collectibles  out of old wine bottles, outfits out of fabric scraps and we too can look for ways to  upcycle and recycle things at home that will otherwise reach the landfills.

Plant more trees: Plastics today are an inescapable part of food packaging, toiletries, clothing, automobiles, furniture and electronics. Microplastics  impact  soil quality, disrupt its water retention efficiency and even seep into the food chain. For a healthier planet, it is important to plant more trees. Trees  in fact help us to combat plastic pollution as their roots valiantly trap microplastics, preventing them from contaminating groundwater. Mangroves too absorb microplastics from water bodies while  forests  intercept plastic debris before they reach oceans and other water bodies. Trees additionally offer greener alternatives to plastic-based products with wood, bamboo and other plant-based materials.  This Earth Day, fight plastic pollution by planting more trees.  Join plantation initiatives via social organisations like Grow-Trees.com that are also helping to preserve India’s biodiversity, expanding wildlife corridors and restoring ecological balance.

Conserve water and energy: Overusing natural resources burdens the planet and impairs its capacity to regenerate itself. Extreme weather events like unseasonal rains, droughts, heat waves, floods and storms are indicative of the imbalance human activities have created on the planet.  Since every micro action  adds to the momentum of positive climate action, conserve electricity to reduce the burden on the power grid, save water, learn simple methods of rainwater harvesting and switch to solar energy.

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