Is there any substance on earth that can be referred to as waste? The answer to this question is a complete NO. There is no such substance which can be called as a waste. Everything we think of as waste is useful to us in some or the other way. These substances can be divided into two types on the basis of their degradability – biodegradable and non-biodegradable. Biodegradable substances are those which can be naturally broken down into simpler substances with the help of microorganisms and do not contribute to environmental pollution whereas Non-Biodegradable substances are those which cannot be degraded by microorganisms and contribute to pollution by remaining on earth surfaces for thousands of years. Examples of biodegradable substances include paper, leaves, human and animal excreta, food materials and kitchen left overs, and non-biodegradable substances are plastics, glass, metals, cans, chemicals from industries and agriculture, electronic devices and biomedical wastes. The biodegradable substances can be used for the production of organic manure, biofuels and biomass which is of great importance for agriculture sector of India. The non-biodegradable substances have now become a major threat to environment because of their complex structure and their accumulation in water bodies leading to death of many organisms. There accumulation ultimately ends up in our system when we consume sea animals leading to many organ system problems.
Out of all these non- biodegradable substances plastic is majorly and widely used in a variety of forms and contributes most to the environmental pollution. So what basically is plastic? Plastics are synthetic or semi-synthetic compounds which are molded into solid objects and used in wide applications like toys, toiletries, polythene bags, soft drinks bottles, PVC pipes, household appliances etc which help us makes our life much more easier and enjoyable. But do these really make our life easier and enjoyable, that’s the main question which needs to be answered. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India generates approximately 26,000 tonnes of plastic a day and over 10,000 tonnes of plastic per day remains uncollected. This plastic which is being dumped into the ground remains on the ground for several thousand years and cause a lot of environmental pollution which includes soil, water and air pollution. Have you ever wondered that the plastic are in solid state so how do these actually contribute to the environmental pollution? No, right. Let me tell you what happens to it when these are dumped on the ground or water bodies. So when these are dumped, chemicals from which the plastic is made off escapes in the soil slowly and seeps into the ground water which then ends up in our body system. Not only this the plastics dumped in the ocean causes a thick layer formation on the surface of oceans making it impossible for the penetration of light inside the water and thus leading to the death of marine life forms because of unable to get sunlight and oxygen.
So what should be the ultimate solution to this? What can be done to these non- biodegradable substances, have you ever thought of this? Should we ban the use of all the plastic products at the same time? Will it be a feasible option to do? Will it be easy for us to survive without them? All these questions are kind of difficult to answer. Well there can be one thing that can be done which is; let’s consider the three R’s which are reuse, reduce and recycle. These when thought of can make us look at these waste substances to be of very much usefulness. It has been observed that many people are opening companies or short start-up which uses these three R’s for plastic. And not only plastic but also other non – biodegradable substances. One of the examples of the company which inspired me the most was ‘Terracycle’ which makes things out of these non – biodegradable substances. So basically they turn a waste into wealth. Some of their products include the use of chips packet to make bags, use packaging materials to make park benches and bike racks, use of bottle caps to make attractive tables tops, use of empty toothpaste tubes to make shoes etc. I am very much inspired by the work they are doing and I also think that we do not necessarily need a big company or a big work space to do all this. These things can be done at our homes with our parents when its family time together, using the used plastic products and turning them into useful and decorative items sounds really interesting and creative. At our homes we can use bottles to make hanging plants, instead of polythene bags we can use jute bags while going shopping, use of plastic cutleries like spoons, bowls, plates to make table lamps and many more. It’s always good to reuse things rather than dumping them and causing havoc in the environment. From doing all these things, not only makes us creative and imaginative but also helps in saving the environment. We can do our bit and make a huge difference to our countries pollution rate. We can also increase the job rate of people who are in need of work. We can hire people like rag pickers and give them a good amount of salary for collecting these plastic substances and taking them to places where the re-cycle process for these kind of substances occur, in this way there will a decrease in the number of people without jobs and also the people working will be able to feed their family a proper and healthy meal. So when each and every one of us does our bit for our safety and society, we add up to make huge difference and this is what we would call our wealth which is our environment, where we can live peacefully and not disturb the biodiversity of our Earth for our selfish means. The change from waste to wealth can be achieved by us – the humans. This change may not be easy but it can be made easy if we all put our 100% effort to it and get united in saving our earth for future generations.
Adding to this I would say that not only the three R’s but also the scientists are working hard to degrade plastic products using mutant strains of microorganisms and so far they have achieved a minor success but in future it may also get doubled and add it to the wealth of our country.
Each one of us can do our bit to save our mother earth and make our environment sustainable and eco-friendly and in the end make our Earth the most salient wealth for our future generations.