“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.” – John Lubbock
Another Earth Day has come around as the Earth completes another orbit around the sun. As a result, we’re bombarded with images, quotes and information on caring for our planet. There is particular focus on how to reduce plastic usage at all places. But for most of us caught in our busy lives, it can feel like someone else’s problem. Maybe the Green Earth associations will do something. Maybe the governments will make new policies. Or maybe the United Nations will think of something. It doesn’t matter whose responsibility it is; it’s not ours! If that’s how you think, then here are some numbers that should be eye opening for us Indians especially:
- 42% of plastic used in India is used solely for packaging. This means around half our plastic usage is one time – use and throw! That’s colossal, wouldn’t you agree?
- 15 thousand tonnes of plastic waste is generated everyday in India.
- 6 million metric tons of plastic waste is generated annually.
- Around 3 million garbage trucks full of untreated waste is disposed of by municipal authorities.
Now think – is this the kind of planet we want to leave our children and their children? I know, a dying planet is certainly not what I want my child’s inheritance to be! Nothing like becoming a parent to give you a wake up call, right?
How much Plastic is in your Home?
Today, we use so many plastic products, that no one thinks twice about even serving food on plastic plates. I too was ignorant of the many ways that plastic is harmful to our bodies. Looking back, I‘m horrified how I allowed anyone to lather my baby with chemically loaded commercial baby lotions and talcum powder.
As new Moms we receive so much advice from so many people that it becomes overwhelming. My relatives swore by certain brands of baby care products– and I blindly used them for my newborn. However, I soon realized the folly of not learning more about these things – I strongly believe when we know better, we do better! So, now that you’re here and are discovering the harmful effects of plastics and chemicals – try to begin reduce your family’s exposure to plastic. Our babies and young ones are even more vulnerable, so it’s all the more vital to protect them.
Many baby essentials like plastic baby bottles, pacifiers and teethers – are all things mothers don’t think twice before putting into their babies’ mouths, just I didn’t. What’s so harmful about these? I’m so glad you asked!
What is Bisphenol-A (BPA) and why is it harmful?
BPA is a chemical added to plastics to make them more durable. Previously, BPA has also been used to fatten chickens, before slaughtering! Now companies only add BPA to our everyday products! Kids tiffin boxes and sippers, water bottles, lining of food and soft drink cans, bottle caps, plastic cups and plates, plastic food storage containers – all contain BPA. BPA can leach into food, can be transferred via contact or be inhaled.
BPA is dangerous because it disrupts the hormones our body naturally produces, by mimicking the effect of the female hormone ‘estrogen’. Imagine female hormones running wild in your little baby boy’s body during the most important development phases of his life! The spurt of infertility in couples has also been traced to this.
To give parents peace of mind companies have introduced BPA-free plastic, but do we really know what fresh hell has been added to them to make them BPA-free?
Plastic has become such an inane part of our lives that doing away with it seems like a losing battle. But there’s still hope! Here are some simple steps to help you reduce plastic usage.
10 Tips to Reduce Plastic Usage in your Home
1. Start off by limiting buying things sold in plastic. It’s difficult but slowly it will become a habit. If it’s not possible to find an alternative to plastic, make sure that you recycle it after use – rather than dumping it in the trash can.
2. If you can afford to always buy organic, herbal and natural products. Not only are they good for you – but also for the environment.
3. Bring stainless steel water bottles back in fashion – for yourself and your kiddos. Our mothers and grandmothers did this, before the convenience of plastic overran them. We even had stainless steel ice trays, which you’ll be hard pressed to find today! Steel lunchboxes are also perfect to pack your kid’s lunch.
4. Make a transition to an all-natural kitchen. The easiest way you can eliminate plastic from your kitchen is to go for stainless steel jars or glass containers. If changing everything is going to be hard on your budget, do it gradually. Buy a new one every month and you’ll soon have a plastic free kitchen.
5. Stop using plastic plates and cups immediately. I cannot stress this enough. Serving hot food on a plastic plate is extremely harmful.
6. When going out to buy fruits and veggies always carry your own bag. Jute and cloth bags are long lasting and you’ll even save some money this way!! There are so many ways to improve your family’s health and reducing chemicals and plastic at home will go a long way to that.
7. If you have a newborn or young infant this would be a great time to invest in cloth diapers. Disposable diapers take over 500 years to fully decompose! Not to mention how expensive they are. I have used BumGenius cloth diapers along with our normal cloth nappies and found them convenient as well as frugal. Bonus – no diaper rash for your little one!
8. Always recycle plastic and paper. I agree that in India it’s a new concept and we don’t really have the infrastructure to do it, but things are slowly changing. You can always sell your old stuff to the local raddiwala! I assure you that are recycling!! Alternately, you can make paper bags or garbage liners for yourself.
9. Just like diapers, sanitary napkins are also a huge problem when it comes to disposal and being bio-degradable. Switching to eco-friendly options like menstrual cups will hugely reduce the amount of waste being generated.
10. Another great step would be to separate your kitchen garbage into organic and other waste. Organic waste can be used as compost while the rest can be appropriately recycled. As Moms we are so busy that this would seem like an additional errand – but it will soon become a habit!
I too faced many roadblocks when I started off my journey into natural parenting. I am still fumbling but learning along the way. This Earth Day, let’s pledge to remove all traces of plastic and chemicals from our homes!
Tell us, how are you reducing your family’s exposure to plastics and chemicals?
Anjana Bhartia is a blogger at MommyRepublic.in. Married into the armed forces she enjoys moving all over India with her bags, books and dog in tow! A foodie at heart, she is also a bookworm and a social media enthusiast. She tweets at https://twitter.com/anjanabhartia