Window Seat

Plastic Waste

Disposable single use plastic has its utility and therefore it has been used so vigorously. However, it has a sinister side that has made it a menace. So much so that it is negatively impacting firm production, creating sanitary problem by clogging drains and nalas, polluting water bodies, killing animals who eat them along with the food waste containing in the plastic bags.

Our country produces roughly twenty five thousand tonnes of plastic waste every day, out of which only about fifteen thousand tonnes get recycled. This means that ten thousand tonnes are added each day to the existing mounds of plastic waste.  It is not as if this state of affairs has remained unknown to the authorities concerned. Keeping in view the magnitude of the problem, the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 issued by the Government of India were revised in 2016 and made more stringent. These were further revised in 2018, where every manufacturer, producer or brand owner was duty bound to notify the state and central pollution control boards, the quantity of plastic waste generated due to their business activities and ensure disposal by pyrolysis.

Though amended in good faith, these rules, besides being impractical were also extremely difficult to implement. Therefore there is a necessity to look at these laws and make them implementable.

Blanket ban on production of plastics is no solution. It would create more problems as we have to look at the overall economics connected with the plastic industry and also the efficacy of the alternatives. Indian plastics industry has become one of the leading sectors in the country’s economy. It consists of over 30,000 firms employing over four million people with a turnover of
Rs 2 Lakh Crore. A blanket ban would affect this sector which in turn will affect our already fledging economy. The efficacy of the available alternatives also need to be carefully examined and then pushed forward.

Don’t Waste Food

October 16 is observed as World Food Day in honor of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. The day is celebrated widely by many other organizations concerned with food security. This year, World Food Day called for action across sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone. Ironical it may seem, but the fact is enough food is being produced in the world to feed all, but two things prevent it being used properly. One- inequitable distribution and two- food wastage.

Food wastage is an alarming issue in India. Our street and garbage bins, landfills have sufficient proof to prove it.
Weddings, canteens, hotels, social and family functions, households spew out so much food. According to the United Nations Development Programme, up to 40% of the food produced in India is wasted. In fact, according to the agriculture ministry, INR 50,000 crores worth of food produced is wasted every year in the country.
Why is food wastage a problem?
Consider this: 25% of fresh water used to produce food is ultimately wasted, even as millions of people still don’t have access to drinking water. When you calculate the figures in cubic kilometers, this is a bit more than an average river.
Acres of land are deforested to grow food. Approximately 45% of India’s land is degraded primarily due to deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, and excessive groundwater extraction to meet the food demand.

Even though India produces enough food to feed its present population, food wastage is ironically behind the millions of people, especially children who are malnourished.

So, please don’t waste food.

What can you do to reduce food waste at personal level

As I was writing about global hunger, I came across this report in Times of India that India has further slipped in World Hunger Index. India has slipped to 102 rank in World hunger index, behind countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and even Pakistan.
It is more the reason, why we should not waste food. In fact food waste is much more than a criminal offence, it is an offence against humanity.
Here’s what one can do on a personal level to contain food wastage:
• Make finishing your plate a habit. Try to inculcate it further to as many possible.
• Plan out your meal and make your shopping list to determine what you actually need for the week. About 20% of what we buy in urban India ends up being thrown away. You could in the week after cut down on the surplus and soon in two or three weeks you will have a precise list of your family’s weekly consumption. You have no idea how amazed you will be at how much you buy and what you actually consume. Needless to say that the difference is but naturally wasted.
• Buy in quantities you can realistically use. Avoid impulse purchase.
• If you cook at home, make sure you cook keeping in mind there is no excess. You can always complete your meals with a few fruits rather than keep some extra food in the refrigerator. It’s a lot better and a healthier practice too.
• Select according to their shelf life. Use the green vegetables first. Don’t throw out fruits and veggies with ‘aesthetic only’ blemishes. Use canned and bottled food before expiry dates.
• Reuse the refrigerated left-overs (if any) for the very next meal.
• If you work in an office that has a canteen, check with them on how they manage excess food. Cooked food, especially since it has a low shelf life needs to be managed better and faster. Check with NGOs who offer to transport excess food to the needy.
• If you host a family get together either at home, a marriage hall or throw a party at a hotel plan well so that you generate less food wastage.
• If there is left over, make sure you plan to utilise it by distributing to places like an orphanage or old age home.

Tailpiece: The Zoo Story

A businessman opens a zoo with ₹ 50/- entry fee…

No one turns up.. So he reduces the entry fee to ₹20/-..

Still no visitors..

Further he reduces the entry fee to ₹ 10, and eventually to ₹ 5…

But in vain..

He therefore decides to make the entry free. People throng in thousands. Once everybody in, he closes all the exit gates and releases all the Tigers and lions from their cages….

Now the exit fee is levied at  ₹ 200/- per head…

This story has no connection to any mobile company. Any resemblance is pure coincidental.

(Courtesy: Social Media)

Tailpiece: Biwi, Boss aur…

Question: Biwi, Boss aur Modiji , in teeno me kya common hai?

Answer: Teeno sirf apne MAN KI BAAT kehte hai. Hamari to sunte hi nahi.

(Courtesy: Social Media)


The author, a journalist turned media academician lives in Central Odisha town of Dhenkanal. An anthology of his weekly column Window Seat, published in 2018 has been published as a book. Write to him to get a free e-copy. [email protected]

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