15,342.6 tonnes per day

That’s how much plastic waste 60 Indian cities generate each day. And that’s not even including the plastic we leave behind which winds up in the stomachs of cows.

IMG_20140409_083011

Plastics are everywhere. As much as you want to avoid them, it’s quite a challenge to do–especially if you live in a city. Even when I was in Dharamasala last summer–a town in a state that outlawed the use of plastic bags–one can see plastics, albeit far less, stuck in the mountain side and trees (likely the work of tourists). This is probably due to organisations like Waste Warriors dedicated to picking up litter around the town.

Buying locally can certainly reduce one’s use of plastics. So can eating fresh, locally produced food. Indeed, part of the Himachal Pradesh government’s rationale seems to be to cut down on what Michael Pollan calls “food-like edible substances”, which always come in that non-recyclable multi-layer plastic packaging.

Yet even though I buy locally-produced, mostly organic products in Bengaluru I still have difficulty reducing plastic packaging. I always have plenty of my own cloth bags for carrying goods home and yet still there’s always too much plastic. I’ve been sampling local organic markets around my neighbourhood this summer and it seems that even in a place where there should be more awareness about the environment, too much of the food is packaged in plastic.

I wish that instead of packing organic atta or millets in plastic bags there were huge bins for people to bring their own dabbas and buy in bulk. This would be the best way to reduce plastic bags in this country.

Benefits-of-Buying-in-Bulk-Infographic

There are a couple of good lists to help those who wish to reduce plastic, one from The Alternative and another from a blog about living plastic free.

And what about those who shop online? Some of the links here are for online organic Indian-made products, but each of the sites that I tried used far too much extra plastic packaging beyond the plastic bottles that the goods come in. Why does Neev or Common Oxen (which makes great soap) need to use plastic? Why not just use paper or cloth like Rustic Art? To say nothing of the layers upon layers of extra plastic that Flipkart and Amazon seem to feel is necessary when sending you a book (yet another reason to be patient and buy books locally or even order them through your local bookshop so the book can be shipped in bulk with less plastic).

At the very least I wish the milkman who delivers our milk every morning could go back to using glass bottles. The only time I see milk in glass bottles any more is in fancy American shops, and those are always the most expensive brands.

plastic microbeeds fish

There’s one last kind of plastic that really needs to be eliminated and that is the kind that one finds in soaps and toothpaste known as microbeads. Another easy item to remove from one’s life, a decision that will not only affect you in positive ways but the life around you as well.

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