• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

The 3 ‘P’s : PLANET, PLASTIC AND PEOPLE

( An Environmentalist’s take on the Earth Day, 2024)

Earth Day, initially observed on April 22, 1970, does not receive the same attention as other environmental observances like World Environment Day. However, its origin remains deeply significant, marking a pivotal moment when, fifty-four years back from now, more than two million americans rallied across the nation to voice their concerns about the state of the environment. This historic event served as a clarion call, igniting a collective consciousness about the urgent need to address environmental issues.

22nd April is celebrated as ‘Earth Day’ and the theme for this year (2024) is ‘Planet vs Plastic’, which serves as a stark reminder of the pressing challenge of plastic pollution. With each passing year, the detrimental impact of plastic waste on ecosystems, wildlife, and human health becomes increasingly evident. From vast oceanic milieu choked with plastic debris to micro-plastics infiltrating food chains, the consequences of our exposure to plastic have become impossible to ignore.

Drawing parallels to past ‘Plastic’ preventing initiatives, World Environment Day 2018’s rallying cry of ‘Say No to Plastic’ reverberated globally. In India, this message transcended societal divisions, prompting a collective awakening to the perils of plastic pollution. It was a moment of unity, where individuals from all walks of life acknowledged the need for concerted action to combat this shared threat.

One poignant example of this determination occurred on October 12, 2019, when the Prime Minister of India, in his morning walk went on to Mamallapuram beach of TN for a symbolic clean up effort. His hands-on involvement underscored the importance of individual responsibility in environmental stewardship, resonating with citizens nationwide.

Despite such gestures and ongoing awareness campaigns, the battle against plastic pollution remains an uphill struggle. The allure of convenience offered by single-use plastics often outweighs considerations of environmental impact. While slogans like ‘Swachh Bharat’ and ‘Say No to One-Time Plastic’ echo through the media landscape, their efficacy in effecting lasting change is called into question by the enduring profitability of the plastic industry.

Indeed, the plastic industry’s economic interests often clash with environmental imperatives, creating a formidable barrier to progress. The prevalence of disposable plastic products in everyday life perpetuates a cycle of consumption and waste, exacerbating environmental degradation.

While confronting these challenges, it’s essential to recognize the parallels between environmental health and personal well-being. Just as lifestyle choices impact individual health outcomes both in a positive as well as negative way, our collective actions (or inactions) shape the health of the planet as well. By acknowledging the interconnectedness of human health and environmental sustainability, we can foster a deeper appreciation for the importance of preserving natural ecosystems. It’s high time that we ought to resort to some nature-based solutions (NbS) for a sustainable future for mankind.

Moving forward, meaningful change requires a multifaceted approach that transcends individual actions to encompass broader systemic shifts. Embracing sustainable practices, promoting plastic alternatives, and advocating for policy reforms are essential steps in mitigating plastic pollution’s impact.

Ultimately, the fate of our planet rests in our hands. As we confront the consequences of past inactions, let us redouble our efforts to protect and preserve the Earth for future generations. By embracing a shared commitment to environmental stewardship, we can pave the way towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

(The article is solely the opinion of the author. The views expressed here are solely personal and not in any way connected to any organisation or any political party.)

By Prof. Parthankar Choudhury

Prof. Parthankar Choudhury Dean, E. P. Odum School of Environmental Science, Assam University, Silchar MAILTO- parthankar@gmail.com

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