L I F E S T Y L E – C L I M A T E
Md. Sadman Zarif Sarker
Plastic. A wonder of the 20th century. Considered a boon back in the 1960s, it is questionably a curse to our world right now. From the garbage bags of our kitchen to the vast oceans, plastic exists almost everywhere. And for the last 30 years, plastic is consuming much of our earth and ocean resources. Consuming as in ‘eating up space’. Plastic is a non-permeable packaging facility that has now replaced every material as an alternative raw material. The whole concept of it is considered negatively because of its harmful effects on our biotic environment. We’ve been learning more or less about these effects since 3rd grade. Now let’s talk about something new; a zero-waste lifestyle; in Dhaka.
What is this zero-waste lifestyle?
To break it up, zero means something of no value; more like, nothing. As for waste, it defines something useless. In the present context, waste means plastic or any material that is thrown away or disposed of after using it once. So in that sense:
The lifestyle that consumes less plastic, produces minimum plastic waste, and utilises that waste through recycling or reusing, is called the zero-waste lifestyle. It also includes dealing with bio-degradable garbage in a way that will either benefit our ecosystem or won’t harm it (at least).
Is it possible in Dhaka?
As one of the most densely populated cities on earth, Dhaka certainly consumes a huge amount of plastic. Polythene, plastic containers, water bottles, one-time use utensils, packaging, etc. You name it. That means much of Dhaka’s water bodies and empty landscapes have much plastic waste. Considering this, a vast amount of plastic trash is ruining the biodiversity and beauty of our city as well as misusing the empty landmass facilities. Besides having an immense effect on healthy livelihood in this city, these wastes are contributing to global warming eventually.
Now in our context, it is possible to implement a zero-waste lifestyle. But here’s one thing. Just like any machinery, it won’t yield 100% efficiency in our case. But, something is better than nothing. And the results that we will achieve from this practice can change our state of crisis drastically for sure.
So, the question remains:
What can you do?
- Let’s start with baby steps. We often take coffee from roadside vendors or high-end places. Instead of those transparent plastic cups or one-time cups, we can always ask for disposable and bio-degradable paper cups. Almost everyone serves those cups (and yes, your Instagram stories will still look cool if you post a picture of your coffee in the paper cups). This small gesture can have a big impact on preventing unnecessary plastic wastes.
- Say you’ve brought one of those paper cups with coffee at home. You can dispose it after the coffee is finished. What you can do as well, is collect some soil and grow a little sapling in it. That’s a small step to build a greener home.
- Buying and using glass-made mason jars instead of plastic containers for kitchen and household use.
- Every kitchen and household produces more or less biotic wastes, like vegetable peels, eggshells, tea or coffee grains, and so on. You can utilise all that as compost for your balcony or rooftop garden.
(Today, after a long period of quarantine and lockdown, almost every building has a rooftop garden. If you don’t have a garden of your own, then there’s a chance that at least one person in your building is a garden enthusiast and maintains a rooftop garden. If you decide to give your compostable waste to them, then you’ll be no less than a God-send to them. They’ll love such an approach from you since it will benefit their garden. But yeah, make sure that they are garden enthusiasts at first.)
- Try carrying groceries in paper packets or fabric bags. Avoid polythene for dry groceries like rice, lentils, spices as well as for fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid using plastic straws.
- Use aluminium foil instead of plastic foil paper.
- Recycle plastic as much as possible.
- You can always re-use plastic cups and jars as pen holders, organisers, or put your favourite indoor plants and aquatic money plants in them to decorate your living space. (Let the artist inside you come out as you decorate them!)
Now returning to reality (of our country), we cannot but use plastic in multiple cases: Groceries, cosmetics, packaging (even for buying fisheries or meat), etc. It will take us a lot of time to turn it into a reality where using plastic would become an option for us. So what we can do is — avoid using plastic or products that come with plastic packaging as much as possible.
The global crisis regarding the environment and climate right now is unprecedently growing every day. And the graphs and indexes can only be changed by us human beings. Kindness is what makes us humans. Such a threat to civilisation and life can be retaliated through kindness only. By showing kindness to our planet, our environment — we can save it from mass extinctions. The earth is our home. And charity begins at home. A small initiative for a zero-waste lifestyle from you today can have a big impact on the special cause tomorrow. A cause that heals our world. A cause which will give our future generation a world that you and I and everyone before us grew up in. A cause that will aid our world.