The giant populations living in the vast Asian cities have already been creating pressure on their local ecosystems. But the rivers have become an exceptionally significant concern now. Indonesia is home to the river with the most pollution on the planet, the Citarum River. The condition of the river is so terrible that the military was called in order to expedite the clean- up of the plastic dumped in the river and to ensure that steps are taken to curb further dumping. The river has shockingly turned black beyond recognition.
Unfortunately, though, this is not one singular incidence of river pollution in the Asian continent. Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, and China dump more waste plastic into our oceans than all other countries in our planet combine and this for sure must stultify all of us and provoke collective outrage.
Plastic chokes aquatic life and seabirds. It ends up in our food in the form of Microplastics that ocean critters end up consuming. It also takes several decades to decompose. Thankfully though, there is still hope, all we need to do is cut down on our plastic consumption. Here are some steps that can be taken for the same:
- Drink Filtered Water Instead of Bottled
Plastic water bottles are a sign of wealth and status in Asia since it is considered that bottled water is safer than filtered water. As per Green Earth, the city of Hong Kong consumes about 5.1 million plastic bottles of water every single day. However, a Swedish brand, Bluewater is looking to bring about a change in this habit of people with energy efficient filtration systems. It intends to augment the penetration of clean filtered water and quash the bottled water stereotype. Anders Jacobson, the CEO of Bluewater says good tasting water can certainly be consumed in a sustainable manner. The Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong’s iconic hotel is attempting to make a move by serving its guests in-house purified and filtered Nordaq water. The guests will have access to water filters at the lobby, and the guest rooms where they can refill according to their wants. The GM of Mandarin Oriental says that this initiative is a proof that luxury and sustainability are not exclusive of each other.
- Sustainable Food Delivery
Starting from street food vendors to the food-delivery places in Vietnam or Thailand, eating out is not a green affair by any means. Especially due to the alarming number of plastic tools which are used. A Hong Kong-based company, The Kommon Goods is looking to change this through manufacturing eco-friendly products and marketing it to universities, corporations, and hotel chains. The products include reusable cutlery, bamboo chopsticks, metal water bottles, and even metal straws with cleaners. Alvin Li, a co-founder at Kommon and a social advocate says that we are just incredibly used to convenience over everything. The environment just does not seem to concern us at all. It can be as simple as refusing the extra cutlery provided when you order takeout next time.
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It is estimated that plastic in the ocean is going to outweigh fish by 2050, as per Li.
- Refuse To Use Plastic Bags
The 1.66 million tons of household waste that Singapore produced last year was mostly packaging waste. It consisted of mainly food packaging and plastic bags. The vast volume of the waste can fill up above a thousand Olympic-size pools, as per News Asia. Plastics are certainly convenient on our end and cost very little money. But they take a very long time to decompose and end up polluting our oceans. Taiwan is looking to ban every single-use plastic item inclusive of beverage cups, cutlery, and bags given by businesses and restaurants by the year 2030. Plastic straws are already banned in the country. In Vietnam and China, beverages and food are usually packed straight into bags made of plastic. It is convenient and ‘disposable’. Even if the habit might not change in just a day, taking small steps such as using our own food containers can eliminate a vast amount of plastic use.
- Volunteer Into The Anti-Plastic Movement
While it is not the most glitzy means of spending a day, it is an immensely meaningful initiative – volunteering for a beach cleaning drive. The One Island One Voice initiative gathered the efforts of more than 20,000 individuals to clean 120 shores in Indonesia’s Bali. Joining big organizations such as International Coastal Cleanup is also very easy and useful for our environment. Going plastic-free starts with us at home, just carrying our own bags while shopping can reduce plastic consumption at home significantly.
The journey is a long one, but it is definitely seeing meaningful initiatives take place. The Indonesian State has set a target of making the Citarum River water drinkable in the next 7 years. It is pertinent that we begin to think about our planet as it is not only our home but also the home of countless other animals and living things. The matter of the fact is that if we take steps to make the Earth better; those steps will end up helping the ones we are unconsciously or even consciously harming.
We can bring a change if we constantly ask ourselves this: What are we doing in our individual capacity to help our planet?
IMAGE CREDIT: Pablo Hidalgo