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Conquer Plastic

This is a ‘Plastic Ocean’ documentary inspired post. Highly recommend watching it to realise the magnitude of our Plastic Problem.

Plastics are choking up our planet at an alarming pace. We have, almost involuntarily, fallen into this vicious plastic Chakravyuh without a way out. I say involuntarily because manufactures have gone the plastic way to make business cost-effective and we are, in most cases, left with little or no choice. But we still have time to mend our ways; we still can ask industries to be earth-friendly; we still can spread the word.

We could start tackling the ‘disposables’ first. A total con of a word!  Dispose it after one use but where? Earth is our home and backyard; there is no place called ‘away’ to chuck these. They all end up in a landfill and most of them find their way to the ocean. The enormity of this issue is perfectly captured in the Plastic Ocean. (Links to the Film trailer)
Tuvalu, once an island paradise, is dying a plastic death. The pristine blue waters of the oceans around the world are layered with tiny microplasctics, called nurdles, micro-beads, and disintegrated plastics. These look like food for the fish. These fish pass on the harmful effects of plastics up the food chain – so much so that it is even affecting the dolphins’ reproductive system. And on top of the food chain is us, humans.

Countless water bottles, straws, non-recyclable plastic bags, take-away containers, food tubs of butter and yogurt, that we throw end up in the ocean. It rests on us to make the alternative choice. I do agree that just our choices are insufficient to address this without a large-scale movement and involvement of governments but we could do our bit. And the perk for us is, though convenient, plastics – even the BPA free ones are anyway not good for our health.

Facts on how it affects us here: https://www.plasticoceans.org/the-facts/ and https://www.plasticoceans.org/infographic-ocean-pollution-affects-humans/

It’s seems tough at first to not buy any more of the tupperwares, to carry own coffee mugs but eventually that would become a habit. Say No to anything that’s single use to begin with. Say No to plastic cutlery, straws and water bottles. Carry your own. Buy bigger servings of food tubs. Opt for wooden toys over plastic and once the child outgrows donate (plastic specially) and do not trash them. Don’t cling wrap food – use containers with lid instead. While shopping, choose products with the least packaging. If you get grocery in plastic bags, use them to line your bin and don’t buy separate bin bags. Switch to glass and steel boxes. Don’t buy cosmetics with micro-beads (face washes and toothpastes are the most prominent offenders). Carry your own mug for coffee; if that isn’t possible, please say no to the lid. New parents, give reusable cloth nappies a try. Ladies, give menstrual cup a go. Segregate trash. Find if your community has a recycling program that you can participate in– for example : Colgate has the Oral Care Recyling Program is many countries to recycle anything related to toothpastes and brushes as they are not recyclable in the usual government operated program. Check out various other recycling programs at https://www.terracycle.com and see if it is available in your country.

Ask companies not to wrap couriers in enormous packages. Sign the petition here – https://www.change.org/p/amazonnews-in-flipkart-commit-to-ecofriendly-delivery-50-less-plastics-plasticfreedelivery

Think of all the aspects of your daily life where you can substitute plastic with earth friendly choices and encourage your family and community to follow them. Please do share your ideas that can help others. Every aspect of plastic in our lives might not change overnight or not even in totality over time but we could begin somewhere. The animals and the earth deserve better.

PO_tips_infographic_v5

Picture Source: https://www.plasticoceans.org/the-facts/

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Home- Facts about Earth

I happened to watch a documentary called “Home” last week by the PRR Group (www.goodplanet.org). The 1 hr 33 min video spoke about the formation of the Earth, its life-sustaining capabilities, evolution of plant, animal and human life, its current state, exploitation etc. The movie appreciated the miracle of Life on Earth and emphasized the harmony between the planet and us – the Homo sapiens. Here’s an excerpt from the movie.

Faster & Faster –

It takes 100 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of potato; 4000 litres for a kg of rice; 13,000 litres for a kg of beef.

The Amazon Rain forests, the greatest reserve of oxygen, has reduced by 20% due to cattle ranches and soya beans farming. 95% of this goes towards feeding livestock and poultry. We are converting rainforests into meat.

In USA 3 million farmers produce enough to feed 2 billion people but the produce is transported to cattle farms as livestock feed. The cattle trample the land day in and day out and hence not a blade of grass grows there.

In Los Angeles the number of cars in a 1 km stretch is almost equal to the number of inhabitants.

Machines dig, rip the earth every day for energy.

Oil, pockets of sunlight, is the order of the day. Dubai is an outstanding example of what oil can’t do. Artificial islands were created; there are no farm lands but the country has the money to buy fresh food; the desert has no water but the money to exhaust vast amount of energy to desalinate sea water. There is endless sun, but no solar panels.

Borneo, one of the largest islands in the world and a major producer of palm oil, is said to disappear in 10 years.

Nigeria, the largest exporter of oil, has 70% of its population below poverty line. Most poor people live in resource rich nations.

3000 skyscrapers have been built in 20 years in Shanghai and hundreds more are under construction.

The necessity of paper has increased 5 fold in 50 years. Eucalyptus is the major ingredient in the paper pulp. It needs extreme amounts of water to grow and when deforested, nothing grows in that land for years because of the trees’ toxic content.

People of Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, took up deforestation to convert the wood to charcoal and export. Now only 2% of the forests are left. The rains have eroded the thousands of year old Humus in the sand the land is not suitable for agriculture.

In the last century half of the world’s marshes have drained; we know neither their richness nor their necessity.

Fishing has increased from 18 to 100 million metric tons since 1950. Most big fish have become extinct as they weren’t given time to reproduce.

40% of the Arctic Ice Cap’s thickness has been lost in 40 years. It could disappear in the year 2030; some say 2050.

The thin ice now no longer reflects the sun’s rays instead the water absorbs the carbon-dioxide. CO2 content is the maximum the Earth has seen in thousands of years.

Greenland has 20% of the planet’s fresh water in the form of ice. If it melts, fresh water will flow into the sea. Salt water would migrate into the ground water table. The ocean would increase by 7 metres and is a threat to low-lying areas like Maldives. There aren’t any industries in Greenland but our actions have repercussions on the whole world.

Coral reefs play a vital role in the Balance of Life on Earth but 30% of them have disappeared as they are extremely sensitive to the water temperature.

Mt. Kilimanjaro (does it ring a bell? The song in the movie Robot) has lost 80% of its glaciers. The Himalayan mountain range is the source of numerous rivers on which 2 billion people are dependent.

Las Vegas, once a desert, today a city, consumes the largest amount of water. On an average every person consumes 800-1000 litres of water per day.

Wild fires release large amounts of CO2. Permafrost, if disrupted, would release vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere, more than what we could handle.

The Earth is the reflection of Human Behaviour. We have no more than 10 years to set things right; to restore the Life of Earth.

Molecule by molecule we have disrupted the Earth’s balance.

20% of the world’s population consume 80% of the resources.

The world spends 12 times more on military expenditure than on aid to developing countries.

5000 people a day die because of dirty drinking water.

1 billion people have no access to safe drinking water.

Nearly 1 billion people are going hungry.

Over 50% of grain traded around the world is used for animal feed or bio fuels.

40% of arable land has suffered damage.

13 millions of hectares of forest disappear every year.

1 mammal in 4, 1 bird in 8, 1 amphibian in 3 are threatened with extinction.

Species are dying out at a rhythm 1000 times faster than the natural rate.

3 quarters of the fishing grounds have been depleted, exhausted or in a dangerous decline.

The average temperature in the last 15 years has been the highest ever recorded.

There may be at least 20 million climate refuges by 2050.

It is too late to be a pessimist –

What is needed?

Natural parks.

Reforestation.

Selective Logging. (only 1 tree is cut per hectare and of different varieties)

Responsible Consumers.

Renewable Energy.

Mandatory Trade Rules; promote cottage industries.

Education & Awareness – inexhaustible resources.

If meat production doesn’t take away all the grains, it would be sufficient to feed the world.

Harmony between human and nature should no longer be an exception but a rule.

Measures taken –

Germany has set up solar panels for producing energy.

A prototype model has been set up where industries would release CO2 into the soil instead of the atmosphere. Whether this works, we would have to wait and watch.

Denmark produces 20% of its energy through Wind Farms.

USA, India, Germany, China and Spain are the largest investors in Renewable Energy.

Can humans not imitate plants and capture sun’s energy? If solar panels are set up in the vast expanse of the desert lands, the Sun can help produce energy in 1 hour what the world consumes in 1 year.

Costa Rica has cut down its expenditure on army and is promoting Eco-tourism.

Gabon does selective logging and gives time for the cut species to regenerate.

Countries are tapping into Geothermal and Wave energy.

What’s important is not what’s gone but what remains. We still have half of the world’s resources – forests, glaciers, lakes, rivers..

We have the power to change. What are we waiting for? It’s up to us to write what happens next – together.

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