Temperatures are rising, climates are changing and pollution is worsening: it’s the same story, day in, day out. From Kylie Jenner’s controversial post about how “heart-breaking” it was for koalas being burnt in the Australian wild bush-fires and then showing off her mink fur slippers, all the way to our post about the beaches of Karachi being littered to the point of no return – let’s hit closer to home.
We’ve all seen the headlines, studies, documentaries that highlight the dire nature of our environment and majority of that damage is owed to the extensive use of one-use plastic. More than 18 billion pounds of plastic waste ends up in our oceans every year. Scrap that, our make-shift landfill sites, also known as empty plots where anybody and everybody decides to throw their rubbish – whether it be two empty Lay’s packets, a to-go coffee cup or a domestic household’s entire trash collected over the week – cause the most damage. Especially, when litter is lit on fire and a layer of soot settles on the nearby areas.
Everybody’s obsessed with the beautification of Karachi but even that single chocolate wrapper that a kid throws out onto the street from the car’s window, matters. “Humare thoray se gand se kuch thori hoga,” or, “Itna gand para hua hai waise bhi,” or, “Bin paas tha nahi, kia karte?” are excuses that we’ve all given when somebody holds us accountable for littering.
The government can only do so much. We, as Pakistanis, a nation, are inclined towards blaming the government for everything, including the dirtiness of our own cities. The government can’t stop every hand from littering or can’t stop people from using single-use plastic items. Take the Sindh government’s stance on plastic bags for instance, a ban was issued on their use which vendors then combatted with the use of “biodegradable” bags – there’s no such thing! Bringing eco-friendly counterparts of plastic bags ended up costing them more, so they decided to hide behind non-existent “biodegradability”.
Nothing’s going to change if you don’t change. Even the smallest initiatives count but simply cutting out plastic bottles won’t be enough – we need to find other ways to reduce our plastic consumption and help protect not just our city and country, but the world. Here are the small ways you can break your bad (mostly, plastic) habits:
Shop Till You Drop – SUSTAINABLY
So many brands provide sustainable products these days that it’s not too hard to find an alternative for plastic-heavy products. All the way from giants like Khaadi and Sapphire, introducing jute and paper bags, to restaurants like Nando’s that pack your left-overs and deliver food in paper bags. However, when you’re placing your order, refuse flatware and use your own utensils from home.
Make Your Coffee Run Sustainable
Can’t break your coffee habit? We can’t blame you. But we can give you an eco-friendly idea for satisfying your caffeine addiction and making it a big greener (the matcha of saving the planet, if you will). Rather than getting a to-go coffee cup topped with a plastic lid, every morning, invest in your own reusable coffee mug and give it to your barista to pour your coffee. Cafes like Coffee Waghera, Esquires and FLOC even give you a small discount when you bring your own cup – sustainable AND cost-effected – who doesn’t love a discounted cuppa?
Switch Up Your Straws
Every internet user ever has seen the gut-wrenching video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck up its nose, at least once – it’s been shared countless times all over social media. Restaurants and cafes have been called out on Instagram by bloggers like @dostizj of The Strength Project to stop the use of plastic straws. And we’re so glad they’ve listened. Restaurants like Fuchsia, Pompeii and Evergreen have transitioned towards metal straws. Consumers, alike, are saying no to plastic straws and opting for more sustainable options instead, whether it’s bamboo, glass, metal or silicone; pick up a few and carry them in your bag, wherever you go – this way, you can refuse a plastic one but still sip on your drink to beat Karachi’s awful heat.
Start A Compost Bin
From potato peels to the end-knobs of carrots, start a compost bin. Maybe you’ve pushed your vegetables to the far end of the fridge and forgotten about them; instead of tossing them in the trash, chuck them into your compost bin. Give this to your gardener to fertilise your spring petunias or any other plants you may have growing. Cuts down the cost (and smell) of commercial fertiliser.
Clean Body, Clean Conscience!
Instead of indulging in liquid or gel soap and the bulky plastic bottle it comes in, go down memory lane and switch to old-school bar soap.
Karachi’s referred to as the Paris of Asia – it has so much more heritage to offer than huge dumps of semi-burnt plastic and litter-lined streets.