Beat plastic pollution

WORLD Environment Day was observed on Tuesday with the theme Beat Plastic Pollution, implying that the rapid affliction caused by the not very easily degradable plastic bags has finally and gradually grasped the attention of authorities worldwide and indeed concerted and collective efforts are required to get rid of this environmental hazard at the earliest.
The theme of this year’s Environment Day was specifically very pertinent in the context of Pakistan where the use of these plastic bags is still on the rise to alarming proportions and playing havoc with our environment, poisoning our oceans, land and our own health. According to some estimates, 250 million tonnes of garbage in Pakistan primarily consists of plastic bags, cap bottles and food scraps. That accounts to around 1.95 kilogram of debris per individual, each day. Indeed the issue of plastic pollution along the country’s coastal areas is a major concern and also worsening due to an inadequate solid waste disposal system in our cities and towns. WWF-Pakistan studies revealed that sixty-five percent of garbage that littered beaches along Pakistan’s coast consists of plastics. In addition, these bags are also choking up our sewage and drainage systems. Since plastic bags take around one thousand years to decompose one can only imagine how long the existing ones will remain in our lives. The situation indeed warrants action and that too on immediate basis to keep the environment clean from this nuisance. Only imposing bans will not work as one has seen in some provinces. Awareness is the key to galvanise the civic sense of the people into action. This should be started from our youth and students by making it part of our syllabus highlighting in detail how these plastic bags pose many a risk to our health and environment at large. Then, besides introducing bio-degradable bags, action should be initiated against those involved in preparing plastic bags. Bigger responsibility rests with the public at large to say ‘no’ to plastic bags and in fact the civic authorities such as Capital Development Authority in the federal capital can launch ‘No to Plastic Bags’ campaign by involving the public in order to free our environment from this hazard. While we really appreciate the steps undertaken by Pakistan Navy to reduce plastic pollution, other organisations and industries also need to join the effort to make our environment totally clean from such hazardous waste.

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