The Plastic Problem

Has there been a day when you haven’t disposed plastic in any form? From cars to food wrap and from pens to aeroplanes, we use plastic everywhere, and hence it needs to be disposed too. Unquestionably, it the world’s most versatile material, and within only about a hundred years of its invention, plastics have become an inevitable part of peoples’ lives, the world over. But there’s a problem – How do we get rid of it? What happens when we dispose it? Well, India generates 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste every day! Plastics are synthetic (artificially created) chemicals that don’t belong in our world and don’t mix well with nature. So we need to do something about it. We are not only stewards of God’s created world, but also His sons and daughters through Jesus. So we should be all the more careful managers of His Creation.

Disposal of plastic
Recently, several cities tried the “Plastic-ban”, but it became ineffective within a few weeks. No matter what our leaders try to do, the near 26 thousand tonnes of plastic waste generated daily is hard to combat. 40% of it (i.e. 10376 TPD) remains uncollected – choking drainage and river systems, littering of the marine ecosystem, soil and water pollution, ingestion by stray animals, and open air burning leading to adverse impact on human health and environment. Using and disposing plastic thoughtlessly, we have created giant heaps of plastic dumps. And in our comfortable surroundings, we tend to ignore the dumps. While the single-use plastics are neither reusable nor biodegradable, the average time for a plastic bottle to completely degrade is at least 450 years. It can take some bottles even 1000 years to biodegrade! It is a mystery how these years are calculated when plastic was invented only in 1907 AD! What may happen to the earth within another century of plastic pollutants? Isn’t the thought alarming? World Environment Day 2018 had the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.

Cries of the Earth
If the earth could cry out in our languages, she would shout: “STOP! I cannot take any more of plastic!” Can we hear her cries? They are audible before God. He tells us in the Scriptures about her groans.

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:19-22)

The beautiful ocean, breath taking landscape and life created by God is dying out by the futility of the fallen world. The silent environment suffers at the hands of people who were created to care for it. God rested His creation under Adam and Eve’s care. But after they disobeyed, the creation was deemed to destruction. But our loving and compassionate God paid a price for the redemption of His creation. At the set time He will restore all things He has created, in heaven and on earth.

We patiently await the fulfilment of His promise of redemption. Until then, we must listen to the groans of God’s creation and care for the creation, as He has asked us to be stewards (managers) of it. As the sons and daughters of God, we need to lovingly protect what He has created, not damage it. We cannot claim to love God and not care for His Creation. We must do our part in preserving nature, and one of the ways can be reducing plastic pollution.

In an attempt to limit the use of plastic, students of class 8 in Rachana School, Ahmedabad reached out to people at a vegetable market in a posh area and handed them cloth bags made out of old bed sheets, curtains and pillow covers. There were varied responses to the change introduced. Some showed dislike while others accepted them with a smile of gratitude. (Which one would you be?) In another attempt to save environment, class 6 children bring wet waste from their kitchens dump it into a pit created at the backyard of the school to make vermi-compost out of it. Along with studying science lessons, they learn to give back to the earth what belongs to her.

Information on Plastic types:
Environmental issues are never quite so simple. Some recycling units accept plastic depending on the numbers. There are seven plastic codes. Understanding them will help us to choose recyclable plastics. Here is a little information before you buy plastic items. Look out for a little triangle printed on the plastic. Those having numbers 2, 4 and 5 are the safest choice. This includes most milk jugs, shampoo bottles, laundry detergents, shopping bags, luggage, etc. Plastic items with numbers 1 and 7 are to be used with caution; like soft drink bottles, cooking oil containers, etc. Though some of the items may be accepted by recycling programs, these take hundreds of years to recycle. The numbers 3 and 6 are to be always avoided. These include trays for sweets, bubble foil, food foil, refrigerator trays, CD cases, common plumbing pipes, etc. If there is no number printed, it is certainly the most harmful one.

Instead of simply sending your plastics waste for recycling, remember the saying “Reduce, repair, reuse, recycle”. It’s far better to reduce our need for plastics in the first place than to have to dispose of them afterwards.

Some tips to cut down plastic usage:

  • Get a reusable cotton bag and take that with you ever time you go shopping.
  • Buy your fruit and vegetables loose, avoiding the extra plastic on pre-packaged items.
  • Use long-lasting items (such as razors and refillable pens) rather than disposable ones. It can work out far cheaper in the long run.
  • If you break something, can you repair it simply and carry on using it? Do you really have to buy a new one? Think twice.
  • Can you give unwanted plastic items a new lease of life? Ice cream tubs make great storage containers; vending machine cups can be turned into plant pots; and you can use old plastic supermarket bags for holding your litter.
  • When you do have to buy new things, why not buy ones made from recycled materials? By helping to create a market for recycled products, you encourage more manufacturers to recycle
  • This is the least we can do to be good and faithful managers of God’s beautiful creation, and tell the earth, we care.

Mrs Amee Christian Lives in Ahmedabad with her husband Jeremy and kids Agnes and Timon and works with Rachana School as Social Science Activity Teacher.

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