Simple ideas to empower local communities to solve global plastic waste

There are many strategies to reduce plastic waste, including creating less, using less, and better managing current waste to prevent contamination or leakage.

By Raj Kumar

If nothing is done soon to curb the use of plastic, remember that in 2050, there will be even more plastic in the oceans than fish. The adverse effects of plastic on human health and the environment are well documented: air pollution from burning rubber causes increased respiratory problems. The consumption of plastic shortens the lives of animals. Littered plastic clogs drains and causes flooding, while uncontrolled plastic pollutes our precious shorelines and waterways. Indeed, there are many strategies to reduce plastic waste, including creating less, using less, and better managing current waste to avoid contamination or leakage.

Fortunately, everyone – from individuals and nations to businesses and manufacturers – has the potential to take action on plastic waste. Policy changes, more knowledge and improved design and disposal methods, among others, are key to changing behaviors and properly managing plastic waste. Our biggest challenge is to develop a long-term economic structure that generates value while preventing environmental pollution.

Recyclability – A Necessary Step
Many experts believe that we should aim for recyclability, which is an economic strategy in which relevant resources are reused to the maximum. Other tactics involve large-scale operations like production and sustainability legislation, as well as huge clean-up efforts by large environmental organizations.

Although climate change is a global issue, local and community efforts can have a significant impact. Members of vulnerable members of society are encouraged to participate and even lead the clean-up efforts as part of a community-based approach. Community service involves utilizing the skills and resources of residents while providing training and education to ensure cleanup initiatives are supported.

It is natural to be skeptical of this approach; and besides, how can small local initiatives make a difference in such a vast problem? Here are some of the benefits of community solutions, along with their impact on the world.

Benefits of a community approach
The poorest communities are often the most affected by climate change. This is subject to a series of considerations: as cities grow, waste accumulates without proper waste management systems; developed countries frequently dump their waste in landfills unable to manage it properly; poor education leads to inefficient waste management practices such as burning or burying waste, and communities’ proximity to rivers and shorelines leads to the accumulation of ocean-related waste.

With this vulnerability, however, comes a built-in incentive. Residents of these areas immediately notice the benefits of clean-up activities. When a project includes additional benefits like training, a safe work environment, and financial incentives, communities are more likely to actively participate in sustainability initiatives.

Factors necessary for success
Certain factors must be taken into account for community efforts to be successful. Because there is no common solution, community programs can be difficult to implement. Community environmental projects should keep in mind the culture and traditions of the local community and develop a project around it while encouraging local community members to participate. They should have a significant impact on the environment that benefits both local and global communities. They must follow sustainability regulations and recommendations from major environmental groups.

There are many strategies to reduce plastic waste, including creating less, using less, and better managing current waste to avoid contamination or leakage. The localities where sustainable community initiatives take place are by far the most polluted. The Mekong River, for example, is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Every year, it transports around 40,000 tonnes of plastic to the ocean. As a result, community cleanup efforts along the Mekong can help reduce the amount of plastic debris entering the ocean. By empowering and educating communities in this area, we can make a difference. We clean up environmental issues while improving the quality of life for people inside these areas by building community throughout this area and educating them about the risks of plastic pollution.

(The author is the CEO of Deshwal Waste Management. Opinions are personal and not necessarily those of FinancialExpress.com)

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