From waking up in the early morning to going to the bed at night, we use several plastic items. We cannot think of a single day without the use of plastic products. As plastic has many valuable usages, we have become dependent on the products made of it directly contributing to the mindless use of the disposable single-use plastic having severe environmental consequences.
Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once and then thrown away.Plastic waste is now so abundant in the natural environment that scientists have even suggested it could serve as a geological indicator of the Anthropocene era. However, it seems like there is no one to pay heed to such warning as the use of plastics is increasing day by day. Department of Environment (DoE) Bangladesh generates around 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day. The High Court recently directed the authorities concerned to ban single-use plastic products in coastal areas, hotels, motels and restaurants across the country in one year, as they are hazardous to health and environment. A joint study carried out by the DoE and Waste Concern has found that 36 percent of plastic waste was formally recycled while 39 percent was dumped in landfills, and the remaining 25 percent leaked into the environment, eventually flowing into the Bay of Bengal through the rivers.
Moreover, according to the research findings of National Geographic Channel, an American television channel, 300 different types of plastic goods end up in the Bay of Bengal via the Padma river. According to a 2015 study by the Waste Concern, 821,250 tonnes of plastic waste are generated annually in urban hubs of Bangladesh, while some 207,685 tonnes are dumped in marine environments every year. According to this study, 95 percent of the solid plastic waste generated in Dhaka comprises poly-packed throwaways, including plastic bottles, polythene bags and sachets of fast food and non-food consumer goods such as toiletries, food items and toothpastes. The study also revealed that per capita annual consumption of plastic products in Dhaka was 5.56 kg in 2005, which has more than tripled to 17.24 kg in 2017.
If we take such alarming stats into account, then we can say that only we (humans) can be held accountable for the ongoing plastic pollution. However, it’s high time that we stopped such pollution with a view to saving the earth. Here’s a list of steps we can follow in order to decrease the rate of plastic pollution: carry a reusable water bottle, use eco-friendly bags to carry goods and other products, pack your lunch in reusable containers, buy wooden and earthen toys for children, say ‘no’ to disposable straws and cutlery, store bread and biscuits in glass jars, and avoid foods that come in plastic bags.
Finally, share these tips with your friends. In the meantime, it is important to raise awareness on this issue.
(The writer, a PR professional, is currently working in an international development organization.)