“On World Environment Day the message is simple: reject single use plastic. Refuse what you can’t reuse. Together we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world.”
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres
United Nations has designated June 5 as World Environment Day, to raise awareness about protecting the environment. Since it began in the year 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.
This year India is the global host for World Environment Day. With the theme of, “Beat Plastic Pollution,” India calls to action all the individuals and asks them to come together to combat one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time.[i] The theme compels us to think how we can individually as well as collectively bring about changes in our everyday lives so as to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our environment.
One needs to recognise the fact that it is the mismanagement of plastic waste has resulted in pollution rather than the use of plastic. Although the valuable uses of plastic cannot be denied, but the fact that we have become over-reliant on the single use of plastic cannot be ignored.
India needs to learn a lesson from Indonesia where the plastic levels reached to such an alarming level that Indonesia had to call in the army for help as reported by BBC. And so to avoid such a situation India needs to focus on drawing measures to curb plastic pollution. Also the help taken by Indonesia from the army can also be looked at from a different lens, according to which the army can also significantly contribute towards a drive to fight against the enemy i.e. plastic.
INS Hamla celebrated the World Environment Day and organised a lecture on waste management and a tree plantation drive. Personnel also participated in a clean-up campaign at the Juhu beach and provided logistics support for the event.[ii]
To address the issue continuous and focussed efforts are being put in place by Navy to ensure that the Naval establishments remain devoid of non-biodegradable materials at all the times. Awareness drives and programmes, lectures etc. are being organised regularly for integration of the philosophy of environmental consciousness amongst all echelons of the service.
While marking the celebrations of the Day, the NCC cadets and student volunteers from Tarumitra, Patna cleaned Gandhi ghat on the occasion. Around 100 NCC cadets also took part in a cycle rally on Ashok Rajpath in Patna to call for environment protection.[iii]
The Day saw numerous official environmental gatherings across India, clean up campaigns along the Yamuna and mall food courts agreeing to forge plastic plate ware for one day.
Tamil Nadu government has announced to ban plastic manufacture and the use of water bottles, bags, cups, straw etc. from January 1, 2019. Minister of Railways and Coal had also tweeted about a small step taken by the Indian Railways to Beat Plastic Pollution by using fully biodegradable packages in 4 Shatabadi and 4 Rajadhani trains thereby contributing towards a greener planet.
To address the issue of plastic pollution, awareness programmes must be launched at the grass roots level and a bottom-up approach must be adopted.
Initiatives must be taken by scientists to develop substitutes to plastic that are environment friendly. Also the Chairman of Goa State Pollution Board rightly suggests that scientists and researches need develop a bacteria that can solve the plastic menace.
The world of fashion also gets an eco-friendly twist on World Environment Day. A renowned designer Anita Dongre has designed the limited edition ‘Earth Tee’ with the GreenGold fabric that uses renewable energy and is made by recycling the collected bottles. Hailed as ‘the tee with a conscience’, it is high on fashion and is also eco-friendly. Individuals need to come up with such creative ideas so that plastic no longer remains to be a curse on earth.[iv]
Bollywood voices like Shaan, Neeti Mohan and others, came together to lend their support to Beat Plastic Pollution Campaign with a peppy song, “Tik Tik, Plastic Tik Na Paye.”
Awareness programmes of the masses i.e. the radio stations also participated in the campaign by broadcasting programmes to create awareness on various measures to be taken to beat plastic pollution such as Radio City.
Women like Rajeshwari Singh who is from Vadodara are an inspiration as the feisty young women hasn’t chosen the easiest way to get to the capital as she walked to Delhi on foot. She has chosen the theme “My Waste, My Responsibility” for her walk. Her aim is to simply create an awareness among the people she meets en route to stop the use of plastic and to use this opportunity to raise funds for her own organisation.
If the above mentioned initiatives are implemented in the right direction, there won’t be a time far behind when India will be able successfully win the “War against Plastic.”
[i] What is World Environment Day? Accessed on June 6, 2018.
[ii]World Environment Day celebrated at INS Hamla. Accessed on June 6, 2018.
[iii]Students call for Plastic Free Society. Accessed on June 6, 2018.
[iv] “Fashion gets an eco-friendly twist.”Delhi Times. Wednesday, June 6, 2018.