Pollution: The Adversary We have Learnt to Live With

‘Pollution’ – a word which we hear very often but do nothing about. It was almost 14 years ago when I actually realised that pollution wasn’t just a topic in school which helped me score marks but rather an issue everyone in the world should be concerned about. That was when I was 10 years old. Through the years my concern for the environment has grown enormously, but sadly so have the sources of pollution.

Growing up, I have heard many people say how beautiful western countries are. It was usually the USA or the UK that they spoke about. The irony was that these were the same people who littered in public places without a second thought. As an environmentalist and as human being I consider it my duty to educate my fellow homo sapiens about the various types and sources of pollution and methods to contain them.

Not many people are aware of the importance of segregation of waste at the source. It is the most basic thing every child should be taught. Separating organic waste from non-biodegradable waste makes recycling much simpler. Since organic waste can be composted and most inorganic waste can be repurposed or upcycled, the amount of waste that goes to landfills can be drastically reduced.

Kitchen or rooftop garden is a concept that is on the rise in many major cities throughout the world. It involves growing edible plants in your balcony or terrace. The best part of such home gardens is that nowadays, most urban dwellers prefer organic farming. This means using natural fertilizers and manure. Luckily there are many companies which provide solutions and technologies which help compost organic kitchen waste. This compost helps increase the fertility and water retention property of the soil. By using this in your kitchen gardens, you can increase your produce.

While there are efficient methods to responsibly dispose organic waste, handling synthetic waste, especially plastic is of higher concern. Research by the National Geographic Society shows a gigantic accumulation of plastic debris, spanning from the Western shores of North America to Japan. Called the Great Pacific Garbage patch or the pacific trash vortex, it comprises of Western Garbage Patch which is located near Japan and the Eastern Garbage Patch which is located near the US. The patch does not exactly look like a giant island as many think, but rather comprises of tiny bits of plastic called ‘microplastics’. Almost 70% of the debris sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

So how do we tackle this issue? First and foremost it is important to reduce the use of plastic, especially polyethene covers. It is wrong to expect governments to ban plastic as it does have its uses. But when we stop using them, the demand for it decrease and simultaneously the production. Once the production has been taken care of, we move onto the plastic that is in existence. This is where upcycling comes into play. Instead of dumping it in landfills, any plastic product that is considered waste can be repurposed into materials of utilitarian value. Consider for example vinyl records. Unless you love vintage products, most of the old vinyl records are just pieces of junk unless you decide to get creative. There are many upcycling companies who now sell clocks and other funky wall hangings repurposed from the vinyl records that were previously deemed waste.

I myself have bought wall hangings, a clock, a keychain holder, chair and table, posters and other awesome stuff, and my room look lively these days. The products are made from either reclaimed wood, old vinyl records or some or the other kind of non-biodegradable plastic, which would otherwise go to landfills or oceans causing harm to nature, flora and fauna.

Along with plastic another major cause for concern is global warming and climate change. Again, back in school we did learn about methane, CFC’s, vehicle emissions, industrial emissions and effluents, and aerosols. We also learnt about the depleting ozone layer, arctic melting, increasing sea levels and global warming. But how many of us have taken the steps to tackle these issues? Again, like toddlers do, we point fingers at one another or the government. But has it ever occurred to you that common citizen like us are the actual force who can put an end to all of it by working together?

At 23, I am pretty young. But in this short space of time, I myself have seen drastic climatic changes. I hail from a humble town called Ooty, which lies all the way up in the Nilgiri hills in India. While I was growing up as a school child, the months of June and July always saw heavy rains, December to January was when the frost set in, and March to May was when the sun was up and shining. But over the years things have changed. For a few years, the rains were delayed and then they completely disappeared, the summers have been hotter and winters are not what they were 15 years ago. When someone like me can see the changes, I do not understand how people in their mid-50s say they can’t.

Now that I am living in a metropolitan, I see too much population, with a lot of vehicles, causing too much pollution. The so called educated class is doing things which are contrary to that title. For instance, as a person who has lived here for over a year and a half, it makes me question the use of personal vehicles by almost everyone for commuting when actually the need of the hour is fewer vehicles on roads. With many companies sharing workspaces, isn’t it common sense to carpool? Why take five different cars when five people, all from the same area or on the same route to the office, can use one car and split the cost of fuel?

It is high time people stop being ignorant and take action. The world needs us as much as we need it. If you are indeed a responsible parent and a responsible human being, then I am sure you would be more concerned about pollution than you are about your child’s grade. Do not force them to learn for marks. Instead encourage them to learn for gaining knowledge. Take actions and inspire the next generation to follow in your footsteps. For without the world there is no you nor I and all the materialistic things would mean nothing.

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