Plastic is perhaps the most ubiquitous product in the modern lifestyle. It allows us to easily take food and beverages on the go, gives us a vessel to transport our groceries, and most household cleaning products are packaged in it. Unfortunately, as convenient as plastic has made our lives, the planet is paying a terrible price. Globally, we produce 300 million tons of plastic each year, but 78 percent is not properly recycled. It gets sent to landfills instead and from there, it ends up in our oceans and waterways, contaminating once pristine environments with eyesores that eventually break down into microplastics, which are not visible to the naked eye.
While plastic has become a huge problem in the United States, it is not a problem that is exclusive to us. In Bali, plastic pollution is so rampant that one company has taken it upon itself to provide people with plastic-like bags made from the starch of the cassava plant. Dehli, India’s capital, recently voted to ban all disposable plastics in a monumental move for the planet. In some instances, however, it is the community, and not legislation or a company, that makes change happen.
In 2011, Gopal Jhaveri and three of his friends came across a dead deer during their walk at Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, India. After investigating, they discovered that over seven pounds of plastic were removed from the dead deer’s stomach.
Driven by the death of the deer, Jhaveri and his friends began picking up plastic in an attempt to restore the park to its former glory.
Jhaveri told Mumbai Mirror, “It was time to do something instead of simply talking. We managed to collect nearly 80,000 kg [176,370 pounds] of plastic between 2011 and 2012.”
What began as a simple clean-up project between friends has sparked a passion in the community. River March, an organization which seeks to raise awareness about the importance of preserving the park’s natural flora and fauna, was founded by noted water conservationist Rajendra Singh.
In addition to regular river clean-ups, volunteers plant trees to make their community greener.
Not only does River March make the waterways beautiful again by eliminating trash and planting new trees, they have also sparked an initiative to discourage the use of vehicles in the park by providing visitors with rentable bicycles. We think we could all take a page from the people of River March. The plastic problem may seem daunting to take on alone, but when united, we have the power to make great things happen.
To learn more about River March, visit their official website.
To learn more about how you can cut your own contribution to plastic pollution, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign.
All image source: River March/Facebook