Breathe green in plastic garden

Breathe green in plastic garden

Children in Givat Shmuel, Israel creating the green wall with used plastic bottles...

Homabay, Kenya has started growing their vegetables in used plastic bottles​​

Plastic waste is now so ubiquitous in the natural environment that scientists have even suggested it could serve as a geological indicator of the Anthropocene era. Imagine the evolution from stone to bronze to iron we have entered into the plastic phase.

Since 1907 the invention of Bakelite brought about a revolution in materials by introducing truly synthetic plastic resins into world commerce. However, rapid growth in global plastic production was not realized until the 1950s. Over the next 65 years, annual production of plastics increased nearly 200-fold to 381 million tonnes in 2015. For context, this is roughly equivalent to the mass of two-thirds of the world population. By the end of the 20th century, however, plastics were found to be persistent polluters of many environmental niches, from Mount Everest to the bottom of the sea. Whether being mistaken for food by animals, flooding low-lying areas by clogging drainage systems, or simply causing significant aesthetic blight, plastics have attracted increasing attention as a large-scale pollutant.

Scientists, researchers, environmentalists, entrepreneurs all are focused to fix this. We have seen startups to recycle plastics for their manufacturing requirements. However, only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. About 12% has been incinerated, while the rest 79% has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment. Cigarette butts whose filters contain tiny plastic fibres were the most common type of plastic waste found in the environment in a recent global survey. Drink bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, drink lids, straws and stirrers were the next most common items. Many of us use these products every day, without even thinking about where they might end up. An unbelievable 8 million tonnes of the plastic dump in the world’s oceans every year.

How does it get there? A lot of it comes from the world’s rivers, which serve as direct conduits of trash from the world’s cities to the marine environment.

So, what to do?
The first and the most important measure would be reducing the use of plastic from daily life, especially, need to avoid single-use plastics. Say no to plastic bags, water bottles, straws, cups, utensils, dry cleaning bags, take-out containers, and any other plastic items that are used once and then discarded. You have to refuse them. Ask for alternatives as biodegradable one, unless carrying reusable bags, bottles, utensils. The second option is to recycle properly. Clean the environment, water bodies, rivers and don’t let plastic to mix in the ocean. We must support the plastic ban movement. Many municipalities around the world have enacted bans on use and throw plastic bags, takeout containers, and bottles and pens. You can support the adoption of such policies in your community. and we must avoid products containing microbeads. These are tiny plastic particles, growing sources of plastic pollution in recent years, found in some face scrubs, toothpaste, and body washes, and they readily enter into our drainage and sewage system, it finally goes into oceans, and affect hundreds of marine species. Avoid products containing plastic microbeads by looking for “polythene” and “polypropylene” on the ingredient labels of your cosmetic products.

Upcycle

And last but not least is if we can learn something from those young students of Israel, or from kids of Kenya, who upcycled the used pet bottles and created amazing space for gardening. In Homabay of Kenya, kids are growing vegetables in it and that adds value to their economy as well. These are awsome approaches to tackle both pollution and poverty. So, don’t wait, share this noble idea and help the world breath green.

2 comments

  • Hi, Roza here reporting from Manila, Philippines. I am not a journalist by profession like other writers of D-FIE, I am still studying, as an undergraduate student at Marikina College. Just have read one insightful article Breathe green in plastic garden recently, where we encounter people who use plastic to create gardens, this triggered my childhood memory, so I want to tell you that. If you enter our slums in Manila you could hardly move a single step without switching on the light, it used to be complete dark as there happens to be fewer windows, dwellers were forced to accept this as it is. A small and smart innovative step has changed the phase. Seven or eight years back we started using plastic bottles in our slums to light up the dark rooms. Plastic bottles filled with water to be fixed on the roof has changed the game. Darkness vanished. It glows during the day time. Fixed solar panels charge the battery for the lantern to use during night time. An organization called Litter of Light works on this project. Through them we have solved this big problem. A similar technique is being used in African slums as well.

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