One of the most talked about issues these days all over the globe is the degradation of environment caused mostly by human actions. Change, therefore, is a must at the fundamental level to reverse the damages we have already caused to the environment. Against this backdrop, June 5 is being observed across the world as 'World Environment Day'.
This year's theme 'Beat Plastic Pollution' is a call to action for all to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. It invites us all to consider how we can make changes in everyday life to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on nature, wildlife and our own health.
While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become over-reliant on single-use or disposable plastic - with severe environmental consequences. Hence, millions of people from across the globe are set to say NO to plastic pollution as part of the world's first 'One Plastic Free Day' today coinciding the Environment Day aiming to inspire people everywhere to avoid plastic-packaged foods and drinks for 24 hours.
Of late, advanced countries like France, Sweden and even developing country such as Rwanda have brought in strict laws banning all kinds of plastic usage while Kenya is even imposing the world's toughest law (imprisonment of up to four years or fine worth over Tk 3.0 million for purchasing, selling or using plastic bags). Even neighbouring India's National Green Tribunal has suggested a ban on disposable plastic like cutlery, bags and other items. However, use of plastic and polythene remains rampant in Bangladesh despite a ban on polythene -- on paper. It may, however, take time to ensure enforcement of the existing laws of the land, but till then it is the responsibility of all concerned to make conscious choice for alternatives.
In fact, we need to embrace all positive changes that can take us towards saving our environment. Our food delivery companies can offer their customers a 'no disposable cutlery option' when placing orders online. We can also request for zero plastic packaging when ordering online. Besides, a cold beverage invariably comes with a plastic straw. Certainly, drinking straight from the cup is just fine. But most people are not given the choice of doing away with the straw or other plastic wares.
The same can be said about the overuse of plastic packaging. By rejecting unnecessary plastic items and packaging, we can help instil changes in business practices that are badly needed to protect our environment. The plastic-free day, thus, can touch the lives of millions that make people think how to go about without this harmful object.
As we strive to attain the sustainable development goals (SDGs), environment ostensibly holds a critical role. Goals 14 and 15, in particular, focus on protecting underwater and on-the-land ecosystems as well as on sustainably using marine and terrestrial resources. In fact, what we do today, will decide how we want to see the future - scenic landscapes through land and the sea, or plastic landfills as well as the Great Pacific garbage patch that's currently accumulating in the ocean. The choice is ours.
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