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Fighting plastic pollution in Uttarakhand

By: Aanchal Sharma

Did you know about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations every year? Plastic pollution is a worldwide concern and every year it’s growing. From our kitchens to bathrooms, we are filled with plastic products. And it is clogging our oceans, our cities, and our mountains.

The microplastics present in any plastic leaches out and contaminates our groundwater. Microplastics are tiny plastic particles. They are defined as plastics less than five millimeters (0.2 inches) in diameter.

And why we should worry? Because this plastic waste takes thousands of years to decompose. It remains in the soil thus contaminating it. Even after our next five generations, this will be exactly the same. Even a chips wrapper can easily contaminate our groundwater that we all are solely dependent upon.

During the rainy season, the plastics dumped on river beds flow towards the forests and is consumed by our precious wildlife. Recently 71 kg of plastic was recovered from inside of a cow. Elephants, eagles, and hungry animals consume plastics since they sometimes are not able to distinguish between food and plastics, and as a result, they die. Even in the oceans, so many fishes, turtles, whales consume plastics or get entangled by them.

So, what can people do? They can do a lot and trust me, it’s not at all difficult. Stop using single-use plastic. Stop dumping their wrappers openly. Instead, throw them in the bins and learn how to manage plastic waste so it can get recycled. Segregate plastic and donate it to recycling units.

Recently, I organized a clean drive called #AaoRispanaSaafkre in Uttarakhand to clean River Rispana. The river in Dehradun near Mothrowala has been polluted with plastic waste flowing from various sources.

I just happen to pass by the side of this River bed area and immediately felt that we are failing in terms of protecting our planet. Since it was International woman’s day so what better way to celebrate our Mother Nature by pledging to clean her up.

The drive started at 10 am and I along with 12 others gathered near the river. We collected around 40 kg of plastic! Some medicine bottles, medicine packets. The polythenes were soo deeply embedded in the soil that we had to literally pull them up. There was open defecation all over. So, many packets of chips, biscuits, etc was littered all over.

Individual actions can go a long way. Avoid using and buying single-use plastics as much as possible. This not only becomes a disease breeding zone but also animals consume all of this. The area’s soil quality decreases and hence ground water too gets contaminated.

We only have one planet. Be responsible and say no to single-use plastics

Aanchal Sharma

Aanchal Sharma

Dentist, environmentalist, writer. Editor of a local online news portal, author of comic fictions

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