Ganga one of the world’s top 10 plastic waste carrying rivers: How can we make it holy again?

New Delhi | Published: February 25, 2019 1:51:39 PM

Single-use plastics constitute most of the garbage along the riverbanks.

Single-use plastics constitute most of the garbage along the riverbanks. (Source: PTI)

By Ved Krishna

Rivers have been a prominent part of India’s mythology and cultural history. The Ganga river is considered one of the holiest rivers – the concept of ‘Ganga Jal’ as an elixir of eternal purity stands testament to this fact. While the popularity of such rivers contributes tremendously to the tourism sector of the states they pass through, what goes unnoticed are the trails of garbage that the pilgrims and tourists leave behind.

Single-use plastics constitute most of the garbage along the riverbanks. According to a recent study, three out of ten rivers in the world which carry 90% of plastic wastes are located in India – the Ganga, the Indus and the almighty Brahmaputra. Hence, plastic
pollution is not just an environmental concern but a serious threat to our health.

Below are four easy but effective ways through which the dependence on single-use plastic can be tackled:

Bring your own bag /Carry your own bottle whenever you go out: Plastic bags or plastic water bottles are rarely used more than once and pile up easily over a matter of days. They end up scattered in every nook and corner, choke street animals and are also sore on the eyes. The smart move is to carry your own bottle or bag rather than going for a new one every time we go out.

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 Choose eco-friendly disposables over plastic or Styrofoam plates: Nowadays more and more products of daily use are being made of plastic alternatives, like compostable tableware which, unlike plastic, not only decompose in a matter of 2-3 months but also nourish the soil. Plastic disposables are a major contributor to plastic pollution and switching to eco-friendly tableware is a gigantic leap in the direction of a sustainable future.

Boycott products containing microbeads: Most people have never heard of microbeads regardless of the fact that they encounter them each and every day. Microbeads are tiny plastic particles found in a wide range of personal care products like facial scrubs and exfoliating shower gels made by big companies like Unilever, Revlon etc. These particles are small enough to bypass the water filtration system, hence they wash down the drain with water and end up in the oceans.

Buy in bulk: Buying items in bulk has more than one benefit. It is economical; be it a single woman living on her own or a family of ten, it means that we make our own food instead of ordering in or eating out. Shopping in bulk is also good for the environment; it ensures that we avoid purchasing more of individual products which means less packaging. Most packaging involves plastic and even though it seems inconsequential in the short term, it actually makes a considerable difference in the amount of plastic garbage that is produced.

Keeping in mind that Indians are actually capable of coming up with and embracing innovative advancements, the right question to ask ourselves is whether lighting lamps and offering food and gold is enough to do justice to the devotion and respect we have for the divine power that drives this universe.

(The author is Strategy Head- Yash Compostables Ltd., CHUK. Views expressed are personal)

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