Plastic Ban? Here's What To Replace Single-Use Plastic With, Without Too Much Effort!
Single-use plastic was supposed to be banned in India from October 2 and people had mixed reactions to this. While some staunchly believed that it was the need of the hour, others were concerned about how it would affect the industry that manufactured it. Many states are slowly fading out the use of single-use plastic, and Sikkim has even imposed a fine on its use. However, we all first need to know what is single use plastic; what is being banned and what could be the alternative for what is being banned.
What is single-use plastic?
Single-use plastic is basically disposable plastic (as the name suggests, it is plastic that can only be used once, like ketchup sachets).
These are used to package items that are intended for use only once. For example, cotton-bud sticks, cutlery, plates, sticks for balloons, cups, straws, cold drink containers, plastic drinking bottles, carry bags, plastic bottle caps, plastic grocery bags, plastic wrappers for consumer goods, multi-layer packaging used for food packing (e.g. chips packets), straws and stirrers.
What is likely to be banned?
According to a CNBC-TV18 report, 12 single-use plastic items have been identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to be initially banned.
- Thin carry bags
- Non-woven carry bags,
- Small wrapping,
- Plastic cups,
- Bowls and plates,
- Plastic sticks for earbuds,
- Balloons and flags,
- Cigarette butts,
- Small plastic bottles,
- Thin roadside banners.
Apparently, this first list contains items that have been shortlisted from a larger pool of 64 single-use plastic items. According to the report, the government has also asked the industry for its views on the move and if they want to suggest any modifications to the list.
The ban will not be and cannot be implemented in one go. The Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that there was no imminent ban on single-use plastic. On the other hand, Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had said that the implementation of the ban will take place “in a phased manner”. In any case, you should be prepared that sometime in the near future, there will be a ban, so you should have alternatives handy.
Now there is no need to worry, everything in life is replaceable “in a phased manner” (that toxic partner of yours and even plastic). And the alternatives aren’t too expensive either, plus they are natural.
Ice cream in a leaf
The ice-cream cups made of plastic can be replaced by leaves. The image shows delicious ice cream served in a banana leaf cup, along with a bamboo spoon.
It is captioned, ‘Ice cream served in banana leaf cup with bamboo spoon. Small but great start to end plastic waste.’ The banana leaves and the bamboo spoons can easily decompose, so there is no plastic waste to worry about.
Plastic bottles no more
There is no need to use plastic pet bottles or even hard plastic bottles for the purpose of carrying water.
In a lot of places bamboo products are replacing plastic ones. And given the benefits of bamboo that far exceed those of plastic, an eco-friendly water bottle has been developed by former IITian from Assam, Dhritiman Bora. These bottles come in different sizes and the cost varies between Rs 400 and Rs 600.
Carry your jute and cloth bags
So, Maharashtra government had imposed a ban on manufacturing, use, sale, distribution and storage of plastic materials such as one-time-use bags, spoons, plates, PET and PETE bottles and thermocol items, in 2018 itself. There was an exhibition held that presented alternatives to plastic.
Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, and that is a major hazard to the environment. To combat this, many companies have come up with bags made up of corn starch, which look and feel like plastic, but take just about three months to decompose. This can be a good alternative.
It would never harm anyone to always keep a cloth or a jute bag handy to carry groceries or anything for that mater.
These spoons made out of various grains like maize, oats and jowar, are durable and tough, but soften once dipped in food, making it easier to eat them once you've had your bowl of soup, or ice cream.
Companies like Living Essentials have started making these spoons and are looking to expand the usage of edible spoons, reducing the use for plastic ones. The spoons even come in flavours like chocolate, spinach, beetroot and ajwain.
Wooden plates instead of plastic ones
Plates made out of wood or dried leaves have always been visible in India. While they may not have been used as widely, perhaps it is now time to use them, as they are biodegradable, cost-effective and beat the use of one-time plastic. Banana leaves as plates have long been in use, especially in South India.
They are big and strong enough to hold large portions of food, in addition to being environment-friendly.
Pick your straw: Metal, paper, grass
Metals straws though a little expensive are a one time investment because they can be reused, FOR YEARS! Plus they look really cool and are easy to carry. They can simply be wiped once after use and they are ready for the next one.
However, at restaurants and take away places, it is the paper straw that is rapidly replacing plastic. You might have already witnessed for yourself that places like KFC and Pizza Hut are already using paper straws. They are sturdy and if you are afraid they might melt in your drinks, well, they don’t.
Apparently, straws can even be made from grass!
Tran Minh Tien from Vietnam has been making biodegradable straws from a type of grass known as ‘Lepironia articulata’, which is prolific in the Mekong Delta region of his nation.
Not only are the straws Tran is producing biodegradable, but they also contain no chemicals or preservatives.
Bamboo it all
Bamboo is a really good alternative for plastic in some cases, better than even metal! It grows really fast in nature and is not very expensive either. As we mentioned earlier, bamboo bottles are already in circulation.
Taking innovation to another level, residents of Pimpri-Chinchwad in Pune came up with a special kind of cycle - one made of bamboo, that weighs only 2 kg, but is sturdy enough and easy to ride. The cycles are manufactured by Bamboo India, a Pune-based company.
Bamboo pots can also be used instead of plastic to plant saplings.
So you see, it is not that difficult to replace plastic, its just that, active efforts will have to be made to fade it out. Now you know how to replace the single-use plastic, so you can start making these changes in your lifestyle. Let’s all contribute in saving this planet, step by step.
Illustration By Ranak Mann
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