By Vinati Bhola:
Whenever I see any shopkeeper handing me the things I bought from him in a plastic bag, I never pause for a while to think that this is an illegal thing in my hand. That there is a ban on its production and yet I am using it to carry my things. I don’t think of the harm it causes to the environment, to the nature and to the poor animals that choke to death because of it. I brush off the thought even before it enters my mind. I am not actively promoting its use. But when a shopkeeper hands me a plastic bag, I don’t revolt or ask for a paper bag instead. I passively accept it and lead on my life. I am you. You are we. And we are those people who violate the ban at the drop of a hat.
According to Toxics Link, an environmental NGO, the Indian capital generates almost 250,000 tons of plastic waste every year. By the Indian government’s own estimates, over 10 million plastic bags are used and discarded daily by 16 million residents in New Delhi and its suburbs.
One may wonder why the government doesn’t do anything about attacking the core of this problem which lies in the manufacturing of plastic bags. A major difficulty is that shutting down plastic manufacturing units would lead to huge joblessness in the society. But then, couldn’t the workers be given jobs in jute, cloth or paper manufacturing units? There are many such questions which rise in my mind while writing this article but it can be concluded as a futile exercise to look for a valid answer.
In 2009, the Delhi Government imposed a ban on those plastic bags which were covered under the benchmark of 40 microns in thickness. The result was pretty simple. The usage of thinner plastic bags rose to a crescendo echoing the environmental issues. Moreover, the implementation of the said law was extremely poor which can be overtly inferred. It is really sad how the debate on the effectiveness of a Government can be quashed by raising examples of such simple laws and their implementation.
It is irrelevant to wonder what steps the Government would scheme out to curb the clutter created by plastic. Instead let us take a step on our personal level. We may not see the dire consequences while using a plastic bag but this does not at all mean that we are allowed to shut our eyes and ears to the silent responsibility which is lingering on the shoulders of every single person. We have to learn to say NO to plastic bags. If we as consumers cease to accept plastic, the business would consequently go down which in turn would impart a positive effect on the environment. Be a conscious citizen, because consciousness of a society eyes consciousness of the nation.