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06 Dec 2021, Edition - 2337, Monday

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“Making our city plastic – free”

K.Vijayakarthikeyan

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As the city is beginning to step into the smart mode, there are also multifarious challenges that are infesting the city. These are the things that are to be tackled before the city leaps into the new realm of urban growth. Speaking of tackling urban challenges, if urban challenges were illustrated fiction appearing on tabloids then plastic eradication would be its Sindbad! It was probably spoken about when at least people of my generation were born, it was spoken about when we were growing up and is still being spoken about, only with more relevance. This relevance will only grow in the future unless we take drastic steps and make the topic irrelevant for discussion.

The “we” here emphatically means people from all walks of life – the school goers, the mall goers, the shopkeepers, the gate keepers, corporates, corporations and government agencies to name a few. As with getting any job done – there is the carrot, there is also the cane. I have always believed that before getting a piece of the cane, every facet of the “we” deserves a shot at the carrot. This shot begins with education / sensitisation about the ill-effects of plastics which should be followed by the encouragement phase where people are urged to give up plastic. It’s definitely difficult to encourage and motivate a city filled with a heterogeneous population of 1.8 million but then to succeed, difficulties are meant to be broken.

After the encouragement phase comes the real game-changer – emulation of the ideal scenario of the plastic-free city. This would determine the success quotient of the city in going plastic-free and also define the extent of next level enforcement! Pulling the cane out! Ruthless enforcement will certainly get the job done but enforcement alone may not be enough to pull off a plastic-free city. The set pattern of the 4 Es–Education, Encouragement, Emulation of ideal scenario and finally ruthless Enforcement will set the tone definitely for the 5th E – Eradication of plastic!

Frankly speaking, we are currently somewhere between education and encouragement, and as part of it the city corporation has launched the ‘My shopping, my bag’ campaign wherein people are encouraged to bring their own eco-friendly bags for shopping (preferably cloth bags, also clarifying here that non-woven bags are NOT eco-friendly). Shopkeepers who use eco-friendly bags are further encouraged and appreciated. This initiative is primarily aimed at bringing about that behavioural change in us, every one of us. The biriyanis, the idly sambars, and the full meals that we take away from a restaurant would be hotter and tastier if we could pick it up in our own hot cases / vessels. The denims and the cosmetics that we buy will definitely be worthier if we could take them home in our own bags. Vegetables and fruits in our own cloth bags will be fresher than those taken in plastics bags. Carrying our own bags in our vehicles when we go out will be a good way to start off things and this in due course will definitely become a habit.

When such an opportunity of being appreciated for using our bag for our shopping is presented, it’s up to us to grab it and make that mark for us and for the city. Inspirations do not lie outside, most of them lie within us. If we wish to be plastic-free, it’s us who should work hard. The transformation primarily lies in us and then, in the city. It’s us who should keep telling ourselves –
“I am The Change!”

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own

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