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A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: No plastic would be fantastic

Here are a few small things you can do that will make you feel less of an accomplice in the crime against nature.

columns Updated: Jun 16, 2018 16:27 IST
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
Hindustan Times
A Calmer You,Sonal Kalra,A Calmer You by Sonal Kalra
Just imagine the mountain of trash we collect everyday with the use of non-biodegradable plastic. Got to kill it.

A few incredibly brave and alert young people on my Facebook timeline posted last week about how they noticed two Ludhiana businessmen dumping several sacks of what looked like chemical waste into the city’s water canal. When confronted, the culprits described the jet black powder that they were dumping into the water, as ash from a religious havan ceremony. The two men ended up giving a written apology to the pollution control board of the state, but I’m not sure if that is enough.

What, however, is amazing in this entire episode is the fact that the guy who saw them doing this, and exposed this, cared enough. Cared for the environment, cared for what nature gives us, cared for the future of our generations. I’m calling it amazing because till a few years back, I wouldn’t see too many of us bothering for the environment. That totally includes me. I, like a lot of us, have gone about a majority of my life watching people litter on the streets, urinate by the walls, spit in the corners of stairs. I have also been a silent witness to educated and well-off people roll down the windows of their expensive cars and throw an empty chips packet on the road, or cut down trees in their neighbourhood to encroach and make parking space for their fourth car.

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I have tried to improve in the past few years. Realising that the actions of some people are adversely affecting my life and that of my kids, I’ve tried to stop them, shame them, and educate them. But most importantly, I’ve stopped living the fallacy that since I’m not the one creating it, it’s not upon my conscience to clean up the mess.This argument that we’re okay if we aren’t the culprits, may have worked some time back.The problem is that we’ve fallen beyond and lower than that line, and now, there is no scope for arguments. Whether we created the mess or someone else did, we, too, are getting wiped out. Last week, when I saw a young couple finish off snacks and casually throw the empty plastic pack and the disposable plastic glasses beside the park bench, I didn’t waste time in arguing with them. I had little time at hand, so I decided to pick up the trash and look for a bin. Somehow, I’m losing the capacity to give sermons anymore. And frankly, if someone can’t see the pace at which nature is giving us warnings, then that someone is hardly worth even lecturing to. Tell me frankly, how many of you remember seeing the kinds of freaky storms, water crisis, heat waves, etc when we were growing up some decades back? It’s happening now, and we are silently witnessing nature’s fury. Well, as they say, a silent witness is as bad as an accomplice.

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I know you know all the big things we need to do to save the environment. Like getting elaborate holiday homework projects made for our kids on the subject of conservation. So I’m just telling you about some of the small things we can do. Trust me, they’ll make you feel less of an accomplice in the crime against nature.

Avoid plastic bottles

There is no need for us to drink water from plastic bottles. There’s absolutely no scientific theory that proves that being packaged in a plastic bottle will enhance the properties of the water we consume. On the contrary, these bottles will not decompose in several lifetimes of ours, and would just stay around, polluting our world bit by bit. Please switch back to the good old steel jugs, mitti ke matke or surahi.

The other day, a friend of mine, Deep Kalra, sent me an amazing video that showed everyone in his huge corporate organisation taking the pledge to not use plastic bottles. At my workplace, too, we’ve replaced these bottles, which would be kept at every single of the hundreds of desks on a daily basis, with reusable and eco-friendly alternatives. Imagine if all corporates decide to do it, millions of tonnes of harmful plastic can be kept away from reaching our soil eventually. The same needs to be done at home, at wedding parties, at all functions. Just imagine the mountain of trash we collect everyday with the use of non-biodegradable plastic. Got to kill it.

Use soap and shampoo bars

I know it seems like I’m asking you to go back in time, but I guess it’s time to do just that. Using a soap bar — wahi puraana wala which slowly becomes slimmer and thinner as it gets used — is a million times better for our world than using a face wash or a body wash packed in plastic tubes and bottles. The other day, someone sent me a link to shampoo bars — these are like soap bars, but for the hair — with every possible ingredient to enrich your hair that a typical liquid shampoo carries. It is 100% degradable and leaves no harmful waste. Google it, and you’ll see how the world is waking up to it.

Don’t print, unless absolutely essential

Jab sab kuchh aajkal hamaare phones, computers mein saved hai, why do we need to keep paper copies? I find it hilarious when offices ask people to make e-presentations and then take a print of them to keep a ‘hard copy’. Are we losing all common sense? We are losing our green cover so fast that we would run out of oxygen someday, man! Is your hard copy printout likely to help you breathe then? Please don’t add to the clutter and stop taking printouts. It is criminal to see the kind of wastage of paper that happens.

Use reusable shopping bags, cutlery

I know it doesn’t matter to most of us to get five bucks added to our bill to get a new bag each time we shop for something. But trust me, it would also not matter if you’ll keep a couple of sturdy, foldable shopping bags in your car or handbag, so that you don’t add to the several million discarded plastic bags out there in the universe.

Similarly, it’s no great feat to use disposable crockery at our home parties. I know that it’s way easy to throw the used plastic plates and spoons than to wash the bartan, but zinda bachenge toh dho bhi lenge. If it is a question of life and survival — if not your own then your future generations — then do we really have a choice? Just one more thing: we keep buying newer versions of cell phones and keep discarding old phones, chargers, earphones, and all kinds of black spaghetti. Yaar donate kardo pls, you’ll never get around to using them or reselling most of it. Apna ghar hai, dustbin nahi!

Sonal Kalra decided to ‘donate’ her used cell phone to her maid. Turned out she had two higher version smartphones already. How unsmart is Sonal Kalra. Mail her at sonal.kalra@hindustantimes.com or facebook.com/sonalkalraofficial. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra

First Published: Jun 16, 2018 16:26 IST