Posted in Blogs in Hindi - हिंदी, February 2016, Uncategorized

बायोडिग्रेडेबल बैग और उसके रहस्य

मैं प्लास्टिक बैग को हमेशा के लिए याद रखने के लिए काफी युवा हूँ। वहाँ मेरे लिए इसके बिना कोई जीवन नहीं था। हालांकि, मुझे याद है कि यह हर जगह नहीं थी। मेरे पिता आम तौर पर प्रति सप्ताह में एक बार किराने की दुकान  जाते थे और  उन्होंने  बैग कभी नहीं लिया। वह किरणे के सामान को बड़े कागज के बॉक्स में डाल देते थे जो वह आमतौर पर अपनी कार में उनके साथ रखते थे। मेरी मां एक पुन: प्रयोज्य बैग का उपयोग करती थी। हमारे घर में हमेशा 10 प्लास्टिक की थैलियों रहती थी, लेकिन उससे अधिक नहीं थी। हमने उनको सिर्फ इसलिए बचा रखा थे ताकि हम उन्हें यात्रा या कुछ और काम के लिए इस्तेमाल कर सके।

लेकिन धीरे-धीरे यह बदल गया। हमे सब्जियों और फलों के लिए अलग बैग में मिलता था और हमे हर दुकान से मुफ्त बैग मिलता था । यह इन थैलियों के लिए काफी था और हमने इसे दूर फेंकना शुरू कर दिया।

कुछ लोगों को लगता है कि वह खतरनाक बिंदु था। लोग पेट्रोलियम प्लास्टिक की थैलियों के बारे में जागरूक हुए जैसे उन्होंने इसे सड़क के किनारों, हमारे झीलों और महासागरों में और पर्यावरण पर इससे होने वाले प्रभाव को देखा। और हां, प्लास्टिक उद्योग बहुत चालाकी से बायोडिग्रेडेबल प्लास्टिक बैग के साथ आया । उत्पादों को बायोडिग्रेडेबल बनाने से, लोगों को लगने लगा कि इन प्लास्टिक की थैलियों को दूर फेकना “ठीक” है।

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Image: Garbage on the road. – H.Vibhu (www.thehindu.com)

कचरा करना एक गैर जिम्मेदाराना व्यवहार है और जिम्मेदार कंपनियों और व्यक्तियों को उत्पादों के बजाय लोगो के व्यवहार को बदलने में  ध्यान केंद्रित करना चाहिए  जिसमे वे कूड़ा दूर फेंक देते है । ऐसा लगता है जैसे बायोडिग्रेडेबल उत्पादों कचरा की समस्या को और बदतर बना रहे है।

बायोडिग्रेडेबल प्लास्टिक बैग क्या हैं? ये बैग प्लास्टिक के बने होते हैं जो सूक्ष्मजीवों (बैक्टीरिया या कवक) के द्वारा पानी, कार्बन डाइऑक्साइड और कुछ जैव सामग्री में टूट सकते है । इसे  केवल एक सस्ते और पर्यावरण के अनुकूल रास्ते की जरूरत जिससे प्लास्टिक की थैलियों से निपटा जा सके , उनके उपयोग होने के बाद।

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Image from mhsgroup.org

सच तो थोड़ा अलग है। एक बायोडिग्रेडेबल प्लास्टिक बैग जिसे एक झाड़ी में फेंक दिया जाता है,  अभी भी उसे गायब होने में कई साल लगेंगे। अधिक महत्वपूर्ण यह है कि इस बायोडिग्रेडेबल प्लास्टिक को सड़ने के लिए विशिष्ट परिस्थितियों (उच्च तापमान) की जरूरत होती है । दुर्भाग्य से नए बैग का उत्पादन इतना सस्ता है, कि कंपनियों उचित सड़ाने की प्रक्रिया को उपलब्ध कराने के बजाय नए बैगों के उत्पादन करती है। यदि यह ठीक से प्रबंधित नहीं किया गया, यह सामान्य प्लास्टिक की थैलियों से भी अधिक पर्यावरण के लिए हानिकारक प्रभाव कर सकता है।  सबसे पहले, जब यह टूटता  है, यह हानिकारक ग्रीन हाउस गैसों का उत्पादन करता है जैसे वाष्प, कार्बन डाइऑक्साइड, मीथेन, ओजोन आदि। कई बायोडिग्रेडेबल बैग वास्तव में “नकली” होते  हैं और यह आम तौर पर पूरी तरह से गलते नहीं है । अगला, छोटे टुकड़े ज्यादातर महासागरों या मिट्टी में अपना घर बना लेते है जहां ये छर्रों (पेल्लेट्स) में विकसित हो जाते हैं । ये सूक्ष्म टुकड़े जानवर के शरीर में “बसने”लगते है और धीरे धीरे यह खाद्य श्रृंखला के माध्यम से हमारे पास वापस आ जाते  है।

जो जाता है वह वापस भी आता  है।

संक्षेप में, यह एक बहुत बड़ी गलती है कि इन उत्पादों को दूर फेकना आसान है और इस तरह से पर्यावरण को बचाया जा सकता है । यह एक साधारण हरित धोना है।

 

 

Translation: Shishir Kumar, member of Vatavaran team

Posted in February 2016, Uncategorized

Biodegradable bags and its secrets!

I am young enough to remember plastic bags forever. There was no life without it for me. However, I remember that it was not everywhere. My father usually went to the grocery store once per week and he never brought bags. He put the grocery stuffs in big paper box which he usually carried with him in his car. My mum was using a reusable bag. We had always 10 plastic bags at home, but not more. We just saved them so we could use them for travelling or anything else.

But slowly that changed. We got all the vegetables and fruits in separate bags and we got free bags for every shop. It was too many of these bags and we started to throw it away.

For some people that was the alarming point. People became aware of long – lived petroleum plastic bags as they have seen it along the roadsides and in our lakes and oceans as well its impact on the environment.  And so, the plastic industry very smartly came across with the biodegradable plastic bags. By making products biodegradable, people start to think that it is “okay” to throw these plastic bags away.

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Garbage on the road.— Photos: H. Vibhu  (www.thehindu.com)

Littering is an act of irresponsible behaviour and responsible companies as well individuals should focus on changing people′s attitudes rather than by changing products which they throw away. It seems like biodegradable products made the problem of littering worse.

What are biodegradable plastic bags? These bags are made of plastic which can be broken down by microorganisms (bacteria or fungi) into water, carbon dioxide and some bio-material. It only needs a cheap and environmentally friendly way to dispose plastic bags after it has fulfilled its job.

 

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 Image from mhsgroup.org

 

The truth is a little bit different.  A biodegradable plastic bag that is thrown into a bush will still take many years to disappear. What is more important is that this biodegradable plastic needs specific conditions (high temperature) to degrade properly. Unfortunately the production of new bags is so cheap, that companies rather produce new ones instead of providing a proper degradation process.  If it is not managed properly, it can have more harmful effect to the environment than the usual plastic bags! First of all, while it is breaking down, it produces harmful greenhouse gasses – names of gases? Many biodegradable bags are actually “fake” and it usually does not decay completely. Next, small broken pieces mostly find its home in the oceans or soil where it can further develop into the pellets. These micro pieces “settle down” in the animal’s body and slowly it comes back to us through food chain.

What goes around comes back around.

In a nutshell, it is a huge mistake making these products easier to throw away and believing that this is the way to save the environment. It is a simple green washing.

 

Katja Polc, member of Vatavaran team

Posted in February 2016, Uncategorized

Our society needs to be rethink!

It seems like we are living in a disposable society. Disposable is in dictionary considered as throwaway, something you use once and dump.  That means it is not eco – friendly and for many of us simply wrong. Why are we using one – time – use items at all?

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Image from http://www.cartoonstock.com

It is simply difficult to ignore all these disposable items. As I am trying to cut them down as much as I can, more I have been seeing how dependent we are on these items. Food on streets and at festivals is served in disposables plates. I find plastic cups for water, coffee, chai in every corner.  Food and grocery is packed couple of times in the plastic foil and even magazines are packed in it. I got tons of disposable boxes every time I order food from outside.  The end results is of course mountain of trash.

 

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Image from http://www.jarofqoutes.com

 

Indeed, we are living in a consuming society.  Consuming society is in dictionary considered as a society in which people often buy goods that they do not need and in which a high value is placed on owning many things. Does that actually make us happier?  Isn’t that increasing inequality? Isn’t that changing our values? Doesn’t it mean that we are increasingly using all our natural resources?

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Image from http://www.lynnegoldner.com

 

And still we are continuing to consume, more, too much. We are simply so used to it that we do not see another way. We are buying things that we do not need; things that are not necessary, things which end in our land field.

 

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Image from pinterest

 

Do we really want to live in this kind of society? Do you?

I want a change!

And so I came across 6 magic R’s of UAA Office of Sustainability (https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/sustainability/)  which changed everything!

 

1.Rethink/reinvent: Consider and question consumption habits

To make a difference you have to make an effort to do so. You have to ask yourself, do you really need all these things? Is there another use for this? Can this be recycled? These are just some basic question that we should consider every day.  With investing more time and understanding our personal consumption habits, we can become more self – aware of our effect on the environment.

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Image from http://www.rethinkdisposable.org

2.Refuse: Make a choice to not generate waste

The most direct way to reduce the amount of waste is to refuse consuming. This of course does not mean to stop generating waste but stop consuming the particular products. You decide not to buy certain items that generate more waste than benefit. For example, you refuse buying “Take away” coffee in the disposable cup and rather make it home/work or you drink it in the coffee shop. Maybe you will refuse some products because it cannot be repaired, recycled.  The result is less trash. Refusing helps you to learn to do without and make it with what you have.

3. Reduce: Make decision that decrease the amount of waste produced

The idea is to buy less trash. That means that your focus is on reusable and refillable items. An example is using a shopping bag rather than plastic bag. Try to buy products with less packaging.

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Image from http://www.yogafinds.com

4. Re-use/Repair: Expand the lives of products

By reusing what you already have or by reinventing new use for the item, you can extend the item′s life.  For example, you can reuse pickle jars for storage rather than buying a new container. The idea is to be creative with the things you have. If I have no longer a use of this item, but it is still useful, I can give it away instead of just throwing it away. For example, clothes which do not fit me anymore, I can donate to the charity organizations.

 

5.Recycle: Reclaim the raw materials

By separating the different materials we can recycle most of the materials! Recycling usually requires less energy than developing the new item and it saves the important natural resources.

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Image from fisherfamilyfarms.wordpr-ess.com 

6.Replace/Rebuy: next time consider recycled and green content

Promote recycled and green products. As a consumer you can chose products which contain fewer harmful chemicals and has reduced emissions in production. These products usually have green certificates.

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Image from http://www.vgiprint.com

I believe the whole system actually depends on rethinking! It is a moment for all of us to recognize the value for us to create a change. It is definitely a long process and takes a lot of effort. It interferes with all aspects of our lives – from buying food, clothes, and gifts to our daily habits and how we think.  But if I, you, we want change, this is the way to go.

Living a life that supports sustainable practices can also influence others to do the same. This is how the magic R’s can bring the change – a move from disposable and consuming society towards sustainability!

 

 

Katja Polc, Member of Vatavaran team