The plastic ban in India was probably the best thing that the Indian government did for the sake of our beautiful Mother Earth. Plastic is the object that poses one of the most dangerous threats to our environment. Banning of plastic is, in almost all aspects, only advantageous. Plastic waste is terrible. It damages, kills, chokes, and is a hazard to all living things.
The plastic ban however, has not yet been implemented in all the states of India. There are only few states which are practicing it at current. Let us go into the details: the history of the plastic ban, the unsaid tragedy that is nothing but plastic, the threat that it poses to life, and the reasons why it should be banned in each and every state, not only of India, but of every country in the world.
The threat that plastic poses to life
The main reason why plastic is so hazardous in nature is because it is one of the many non- biodegradable things on Earth. As we already know, from basic general knowledge, all matter on Earth is divided into biodegradable and non- biodegradable things.
The things that can get decayed and decomposed by natural processes, and become part of the Earth’s surface, increasing its fertility, are called biodegradable. However, things that do not decay or decompose, and remain in their primitive stage for more than millions of years, or maybe even forever, are called non-biodegradable objects.
Plastic is one such non- biodegradable object. It cannot be broken down by microorganisms. It is made up of carbon bonds, which are much harder to be synthesised than peptide bonds. Hence, plastic items remain on the Earth’s surface for a minimum of one millennium.
They clog up drains, swell up landfills and float around in the ocean. And on its time on Earth, it causes tonnes of damage to the living creatures, especially innocent animals that do not have the common sense to deal with plastic.
The plastic that lies on the road, in humongous garbage dumps, are often chewed up and eaten by the cows that stray the streets. Not only does this cause the cows to die, but indirectly the plastic reaches the human digestive system too, in the case that the meat is eaten. The primary reason of the death of the cows should be enough.
Not only land animals, but marine animals are also affected by the plastic waste items. There are so many whales that have ingested the plastic items that are floating around in their habitat. Plastic straws are known to choke turtles. And the waste occupies their living and breeding quarters.
Just recently, the Versova beach was completely clogged up with plastic, so much so that one could not even find sufficient place to sit! In spite of this, Mr. Afroz Shah took a beach cleaning initiative, in which millions of youth and children participated. It has been completely cleaned only this year, and their efforts were rewarded: hundreds of turtles hatched upon the Versova beach, after almost half a century!
According to a study from the Plymouth University, plastic pollution affects at least 700 marine species, while some estimates suggest that at least 100 million marine mammals are killed each year from this disastrous pollution.
Seeing as plastic that is swallowed cannot be digested, it lands up in the animal’s gut. Plastic in an animal’s gut can prevent food digestion and can lead to a very slow and painful death.
Also, if you have ever noticed the plastic seal around plastic water bottles, and have thrown away the bottle without cutting the seal, a very grievous crime has been committed by you. Of course, it isn’t punishable or illegal. But those seals easily get wrapped around the necks of certain birds, which leads to them choking and dying.
These are just some of the threats that plastic poses to life on Earth. Imagine how many more terrible consequences plastic waste will have!
The history of the plastic ban in India
Sikkim was the first place in India to be completely plastic bag free. Himachal Pradesh was the first place ever in India to place a ban on plastic and polythene bag, a ban that was initiated in 2009. In the years following then, there have been 25 more states that have picked up the initiative too and followed in their lead.
In some states, a complete ban is being followed, while other states are following only a partial ban. Karnataka, in the year 2016, had banned all single-use plastic items. In 2017, our Capital city Delhi banned all disposable plastic items.
The latest states to have joined the bandwagon are Bihar, Maharashtra, Odisha, Gujarat, Uttarkhand, and Tamil Nadu, the last state being Tamil Nadu which implemented the ban on 1st January, 2019.
Each state has of course, set up exemptions of the ban, as well as a fixed penalty in case of going against the ban and using the plastic item. At present, almost 25 states have banned plastic in India.
India has also announced that by the year 2022, all single use plastic items will be completely banned in India.
Alternatives to Plastic
The alternatives to plastic are almost never ending. The best part about these alternatives is that they are not only reusable, but also biodegradable when the time comes for it to be disposed of.
All polythene and plastic bags must be replaced completely by either paper bags, for the lighter materials, or cloth bags for other heavy items. Cloth bags are probably the best alternative because, they can be reused as many times as you’d like and can even be washed and dried. They are neat, handy and extremely useful.
Paper bags are also useful and can be easily recycled. However, it is not as good an alternative, because several many trees are cut down just to make one sheet of paper. Hence, I support cloth bags for maximum usage.
Instead of using plastic containers, using glass is recommended. Glass is made of fine grains of sand, and can be easily weathered away when it is disposed of. It can also be recycled in multiple ways. They are also a great alternative because they keep the food and water completely fresh, and prevent spoilage.
It is always best to use glass bottles instead of plastic ones for this reason. The bottles are also very pretty, and can be reused as many times as required, without loss in either quality or purity. Companies such as Keventers or Frozen Yogurt Bottle in India provide their products in such bottles, and it is honestly heavenly.
There is also a new product called liquid wood. This is a by-product of creating paper, in the paper mills industry. These look, feel and act just like plastic, but that is deceiving. They are actually completely biodegradable, unlike the petroleum based plastic items. Toys, golf tees and even some expensive speaker boxes have already been created and sold in markets from this liquid wood, especially by German researchers. Somewhere, in relief, Mother Earth is sighing contentedly.
All in all, the amount of relief the plastic ban has brought to our environment is almost immeasurable. But just by banning something, the problem is not completely solved. We need to follow the law with all our efforts, putting in the dedication to see to it that our actions are not detrimental to our Mother Earth.
Strict fines must not only be imposed, but also followed up on and collected from anyone caught using plastic items and defying the ban. And the government’s and the municipal corporation’s efforts end there. It is up to us to be responsible citizens of India as well as caring inhabitants of this world, so as to respect our environment and reward. We must change our ways and treat our Mother Nature the way it deserves to be treated.