When I was in college, a book called India 2020 by APJ Abdul Kalam was released. I haven’t read the book yet. But the year got stuck in my mind or maybe it was the sheer symmetry of the number. Or like how sometimes certain things get weirdly connected in your brain. Like whenever I see sea green curtains I think of hospitals. Instantly.
It is already the last day of 2020 and it seemed so far away once. Like it would never come. I would have thought it was such a promising year that we have to wait so long for it. How best to describe this year? I found a new word for this in the newspaper this morning. Annus Horribilis. It means the most horrible year in latin, which was so famously used by the Queen (yes the only one we know of) when part of her house burnt down and her kids got separated. We were so naive to underestimate horrible’s horribleness. But I am not writing to tell you this. We all know that at our level how horrible this year was, plus you are better off reading about it somewhere else with various analysis and interesting stats.
I have a specific agenda here and I thought it would be better to lay it down here so that it becomes solid. Just like how the self help gurus say, if you have a goal then write it down on the wall. You are doomed once the whole world knows about it. Then you might just finish it out of embarrassment of failing. I know its a trick but this is how it will work for me.
So here it is. We as a family, i.e. myself, my daughter, my son and my very pragmatic husband intend to go plastic-free starting tomorrow. We have been already composting for 6 years and recycle all the papers and cardboards. We have not had success in plastic recycling. We segregate but the municipal waste collectors dump all in the same garbage trucks. The local kabadi wala refuses to take those plastics that wrap biscuits and items that come in multi layer packaging.
This is a desperate step I know. And very difficult when you have kids in the house and a very pragmatic husband. We figured that it is next to impossible to achieve plastic free living in a city. But even if we successfully rid majority of it then it is a big win. Nevertheless we are giving it a try for one whole year. One day and one thing at a time. Zero waste or plastic free living is not just using handmade soaps and using bamboo toothbrushes.
Plastic is unavoidable and it has become part of our being. Let me state here for once that plastic is the most amazing human creation. Our daily existence is interdependent on it. So we are blinded to what it is doing to us and our environment. In Western Europe, 92 kgs of plastic is consumed per capita per year. Worldwide its 35 kgs per capita per year. Just to understand how dependent we are on plastics, I counted the number of things starting once you wake up, which presents to us in plastic form or packaging. Some of these things are:
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Essential goods like dals, atta, etc.
Cooking oil cans
Readymade food items like bread
Soaps and shampoo packaging
Deliveries from Amazon, etc.
Gift boxes (often the cardboard boxes have a layer of plastic)
Food products like biscuits, cereals, snacks, chocolates, etc.
Buckets and tumblers
You get the idea. They are the only thing that is actually omnipresent. From Mount Everest’s highest peak to Mariana Trench’s deepest depth. Every single day 8 million pieces of plastics find its way to the ocean. At the rate we are consuming plastics this number will triple by 2040. 100% of all baby turtles have plastic in their stomachs. Millions of marine animals and sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution every year. And it is also within our bodies today. Yes it is a fact.
Plastic pollution should be the trepidation of our generation. It should give us sleepless nights. Each year is Annus Horribilis for our environment. If you do a simple wikipedia search on highest recorded temperature across the world. You will find majority of them in the past few years. Few places have recorded the highest in the past months. It is a fact and there is no denying. So let me not try to convince you. And let’s get back to business, which is me walking the talk.
What I intend to do:
Explore ways of cutting plastic that comes in our lives and households. It is a challenging feat but when I googled zero wasters I found many communities and various podcasts on how to live this kind of life. One day and one thing at a time. Eliminate or replace.
Talk about reducing plastic consumption within friends and family. Yes I don’t intend to stop this talk right here in my house, but I intend to take this out.
Connect with organisations and groups that do responsible plastic recycling. Maybe I will talk to them, interview them, write about them or visit them. Slowly but surely.
Lastly what I would request from you is:
If you are already a zero waster…please guide me.
If you are a climate sympathiser…then let’s join hands.
If you are looking for something exciting to do this year…then this is the best resolution out there.
If you are my family/friend…then please avoid giving/gifting anything that is plastic or wrapped in plastic.
If you think all this is crap and we are all going to be die one day…then let’s have a chat.
I hope to update you every now and then with our family’s trials and tribulations. I hope to have your support and looking forward to some of you joining me. Let us make a team and do this together.
Happy New Year and let’s hope for a Annus Mirabilis 2021!