June 5, 2021, is another date also known as “World Environment Day”. Ironically, we are just celebrating this day every year but not fully aware of our environment or how much waste materials we produce daily that are harming our environment.     

I think you should know the facts, so that you can get know how and what non-environment friendly materials we use and produce in our daily life.

If you can’t plant trees or not do anything else to protect our environment at least reduce the consumption of such materials and choose the more eco-friendly alternatives to contribute in keeping our earth’s environment clean.

Plastic

As per the the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), despite a ban on single-use plastic, India generates an estimated 26,000 tonnes of plastic a day, of which more than 10,000 tonnes remain uncollected.

The uncollected plastic waste often ends up in seas and oceans, harming aquatic life.

Microbeads/microplastic

Several kinds of toothpaste, beauty products (such as face and body scrubs), and detergents contain plastic microbeads. Millions of tonnes of these microplastics enter the oceans every year, devastating the marine environment. These microbeads are not biodegradable and are so tiny they cannot be filtered or picked up during routine clean-ups.

Also Read: How Much Plastic are We Eating & What Happens if We Eat Plastic

These microbeads resemble fish eggs and get eaten by marine animals too. According to Plymouth University, almost 94,000 microbeads have a chance of ending up in water bodies every time a person washes their face using such products.

Laundry Detergents

Laundry detergents contain heavy metals, phosphates, and other toxic chemicals that get washed into rivers, lakes, and oceans. They also adversely impact oxygen supplies for marine life and overexposure to detergents can turn the water acidic and end up damaging marine life.

Disposable cutlery, food packets

Disposable chopsticks are depleting Asian forests. Millions of trees are chopped to produce disposable chopsticks every year, according to Greenpeace. These are further treated with chemicals that may cause respiratory distress.

Though multiple eateries now offer wooden compostable cutlery alternatives, plastic cutlery is still being used extensively.

Battery

Electronic devices run on batteries that contain a toxic cocktail of cadmium, lead, and mercury – all of which are major pollutants. Even if batteries are incinerated, they cause air pollution. So, the best we can do right now is purchase rechargeable alternatives as much as possible.

Light Bulbs

Fluorescent (CFL) and LED bulbs were introduced as an environment-friendly alternative to common incandescent light bulbs because they use less energy.

But CFL bulbs come laden with metal components such as lead, copper, and zinc, which cause resource depletion and are toxic. What is the way out? Well, conserve as much as possible.

Sunscreen

A common skincare product, sunscreen has been causing irreparable damage to the environment. We don’t seem to realise that the sunscreen we slather ourselves with before taking a dip eventually washes off.

The chemicals in the sunscreen—such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene—are harmful to marine life, especially coral.  In fact, sunscreens have contributed to the ever-declining health of coral reefs.

Adhesive Tapes

A must-have at homes and workplaces, adhesive tapes are an ecological nightmare. They are made of synthetic resins and plastic films that not only are difficult to break down but also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Sticky tapes left on cardboard boxes used for deliveries also interfere with the recycling process.

Menstrual Waste

Tampons, pads, and pantyliners are essential but they are 90 percent plastic and also come in single-use plastic packs. Many companies have introduced reusable pads, cotton tampons, and other environmentally friendly alternatives but the silicone menstrual cup seems the best option to reduce menstrual waste.

One cup can last years and can be reused multiple times. It is far more affordable too. But in countries like India, where menstruation and menstrual hygiene products remain taboo in most places, the switch may take years of an awareness campaign.

Wet wipes and make-up wipes

Wet wipes are a popular, seemingly harmless product, which though labelled as “flushable”, contain plastic and do not break down easily.

A whopping 20 million pounds of disposable face wipes are used and discarded daily in the United States alone. Their plastic fibres drenched in chemicals contaminate the soil while breaking down.

Sanitisers

With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, sanitisers are our first line of defence along with masks. Most of these antibacterial solutions contain triclocarban (TCC) and triclosan (TCS) – which take years and years to degrade. They contaminate water bodies and harm aquatic life.

This article was also published on Moneycontrol