All we need to do is to CARRY OUR OWN BAG, to make Darjeeling Hills Plastic Bag Free as part of the global challenge International Plastic Bag Free Day, 3 July (www.plasticbagfreeday.org).
This global challenge is pertinent to us too, "In India 4 million tonnes of plastic is used annually; with plastic or polythene bags being a major part. The toxic constituents and non-biodegradable nature of plastic bags make it visibly one of the most serious concerns for the environment." (http://toxicslink.org). In India, approximately 12 million tonnes of plastic products are consumed every year, according to trade bodies. Nearly 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated per day in the country of which 6,000 tonnes does not even get collected.(Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 (Environment Ministry)).
Plastic bags in most instances are a single use product with an extremely short usage time. Internationally, on an average a plastic bag is used for just 25 minutes. Their flimsy nature, lack of segregation and storage at source and physical characteristics make it the least collected waste by the informal recycling industry in India. It ends up contaminating water and soil, the air when it burns, thus affecting our health. It also contributes to landslides.
“There are some environmental problems that are hard to solve, that involve complex economic and social trade offs. The problem of disposable plastic bags is not one of these. It’s simple – just get rid of them. We don’t need them and they aren’t worth the massive problems they cause. There are easy replacements that are better for public health, the environment and the economy.” Annie Leonard The Story of Stuffwww.storyofstuff.org
Darjeeling has in the past banned plastic bags. “The lesson learnt from it is that 'Ban' is just one part of the larger solution and in isolation is not as effective as it was thought to be. A congruence of community awareness and initiatives makes the ban successful as has been the experience in Darjeeling, Sikkim and Delhi. "Plastic ban - Who Cares New Delhi, 23 December 2014”. (http://toxicslink.org).
Post ban has seen a bigger threat that comes from non-woven PP (polypropelene) bags, that have flooded the market. These bags are essentially plastic bags, even though they look like cloth bags. They have the same ill-effects as the other plastic bags. The Delhi High Court's Judgment delivered on: 28.08.2009 is explicit " non-woven bags comprise of 98.3% polypropylene. Therefore, the conclusion is simple that the end product is nothing but plastic. Since the products manufactured by the petitioner are admittedly bags, they would fall within the expression “plastic bags”."
On the occasion of International Plastic Bag Free we look forward for your commitment and stewardship in the movement to make Darjeeling Hills, plastic bag free.
Take the lead and share more details from our social media posts: https://www.facebook.com/Darjeeling-Prerna
The movement is being taken forward under the banner of Zero Waste Himalaya, a platform of individuals, Government Organisations, Non-Government Organisations, Faith Based Organisations promoting zero waste principles of waste management in Bhutan, India and Nepal. In Darjeeling Hills the organisations involved are DLR Prerna, WWF India, ATREE, FTF - Mirik, NEPA, Mirik. The group has actively worked with local self government institutions, community groups, educational institutions, faith based organisations and media in promoting zero waste practices in the transboundary landscape.