The other week I came back from a trip to Goa, India, with lots of new impressions, wonderful memories, and quite a bit of anxiety. It’s obviously very regrettable that it required a plane trip to get there (definitely part of my angst), yet I feel very grateful for the opportunity of experiencing the reality that is outside my everyday bubble.
What I saw was plastic pollution. Even though I’m well aware of the problem – I write and read about it all the time – it was actually kind of hard to believe; plastic everywhere. Like winter snow here in Sweden, plastic waste was piled up by the side of the road, where holy cows graze and street dogs play. I know that this is just the tip of an iceberg, the problem is much worse in other parts of India, but it definitely got to me.
During my stay I lived on a beach which was kept very clean, but every day I caught pieces of plastic as I was swimming. Single-use plastic packaging from food products and random scraps came floating at me like ducks in a pond, and bits of discarded fishing nets were scattered all over the beach. It was definitely a big scar in this beautiful scenery.
One day, a group of four or five men who probably lived nearby came down to the small bay to enjoy the nice weather (36°C and a perfect breeze). They spent the day sitting in the shade from some bushes, and when they left, they had littered the entire ground around them; just left their plastic waste right there in the sand. I couldn’t believe it – they could just as well have thrown it straight in the ocean.
However, though it’s hard to believe by the looks of it, the Indian government is well aware of the problem and trying to turn things around. The first sign of this was the digital screens telling us to “say no to plastic” when arriving at the airport.
When hosting United Nations’ World Environment Day last year, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced the country’s intention to fully eliminate single-use plastic by 2022, and according to National Geographic, more than half of India’s 29 states have already made legislations against it. But changing habits is hard, and especially so with the strong resistance coming from plastic product manufacturers and retailers…
We all know that we need to do something, and now. Greta Thunberg‘s got it right: our house is on fire and no one’s doing something about it. We already have the solutions, all we need to do is act.
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