Do real things, bans are lazy
The University of Plymouth investigated five snow samples from Everest for microplastics. All five snow samples contained microplastics. Think about it yourself. Recently, several tons of garbage were removed from the highest peak in the world. But microplastics could be more than that: It’s possible, the researchers believe, that plastics come from outdoor clothing and gear.
First of all, this is terrible news in itself. People have left no place safe from plastics: pollution is universal. Second, it is possible, although not entirely confirmed, that microplastics can accelerate the melting of snow. Of course, we all know how terrible it is when microplastics become embedded in the ecosystem, because they emit both toxins and can alter the metabolism of even lower-order animals.
For India, the lessons are clear. Although data is always welcome, we don’t have to wait for it. Tourism-dependent regions must tackle plastic garbage. I’ve never been a devotee of cleaning units without a backup plan for long-term prevention, but this study pushes me to think that a one-time cleaning with proper disposal could help prevent microplastics. Prevention must be designed locally for impact. From local tourist access for plastic handling, to implementing collection systems, to invoking the Extended Producer Responsibility clauses of India’s rules, tourism-rich states must make time-bound plans. . India should join other tourism-dependent nations in calling for branded outdoor gear to be redesigned to prevent fiber shedding. This is where states should focus their attention, rather than endless and useless bans on plastic bags.
(The writer is founder and director of the Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)