By Syed Shahdawil
We appreciate the idea of making a “Plastic-Free” Gilgit-Baltistan, and heartiest kudos to those who are working on it. But, let’s talk about it from a realistic perspective.
Is it possible?
Let’s start by thinking about the many types of plastic products being used in our markets, in food packaging, bottles, toys, stationery covers, and many other daily use products? Does stopping use of a shopping bag make us plastic free? We have been emphasizing on this idea for years to stop use of plastic bags, but has it worked?
Did it work during the peak seasons of tourism? Did our tourists bring with them more plastic? Did they stop drinking bottled water and soft drinks?
If not, then did emphasizing ban on shopping bags make us plastic free?
What innovations can we bring into plastic free-campaigns? Isn’t it an irony that while we are promoting cloth bags as an alternate, the cloth bag arrives in a plastic packaging! Do we really need to invest in cloth bags, or do we need more innovative and strategic planning for a plastic free region?
I don’t believe it is impossible, but I think smart work is needed instead of iteration of the same idea.
Not using plastic for packaging products can e a start at the production phase. Continuous collection of plastic waste and recycling it can be another.
Solutions and policies are also required to raise awareness on use of plastic and its impact on our environment and glaciers. We need to accelerate and promote entrepreneurs who are coming up with ideas and processes related to recycling of plastic waste. We also need to invest more in waste management systems and recycling system to process this waste into green energy and other recycled products.
Contextual and localized awareness campaigns are required before handing locals cloth bags and punishing shopkeepers for selling products in plastic bags.
Coming up with an idea is ok, but ideas not backed by research and feasible solutions are not likely to make them feasible and sustainable.
Let’s work together to make a plastic free region and save our glaciers and environment by adopting and innovating, not by repeating tested and not-so-impactful ideas.