Gifting Tips: Prosperity is what we wish for others in this festive season, and we often show our blessings in the form of gifts. This year, these gifts will be made of materials with names like polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl—all different forms of the material we know as plastic.
India is the world’s third-largest plastic consumer, with 15.37 million metric tonnes annually. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, 4.4 million metric tonnes of this plastic are waste. This number has nearly tripled since 2015 and continues to rise as India’s prosperity increases. According to a recent report by the Energy and Resources Institute (2021), 42% of plastic consumption in India stays in circulation for more than one year, while 58% is waste. Over 60% of this waste is managed, ten times more than in the US.
This enormous success is due partly to improved recycling practises across the country. Still, the largest credit goes to our informal waste collectors, who painstakingly sort through our garbage daily and return much of it to the system. Despite these efforts, at least 31.5% of India’s plastic waste remains mismanaged, polluting our soil, water, and air. Even clothing is not immune to this waste. A staggering 80% of our textile waste ends up in landfills. Increasingly, our natural fibres are being replaced with synthetic poly alternatives that are cheaper and faster to produce.
The day after Diwali is the most significant waste-generating day in the calendar year, with 50 tonnes of excess waste daily. Further, much of the plastic waste in our gifts can be difficult to recycle due to its presence as mixed materials in our fabrics and containers. Yet, plastic is not the problem. Plastics have revolutionised our modern lives, bringing essential life-saving innovations to medicine, industry, and agriculture. Instead, we need to become more discerning in our plastic use. Here are three ways you can tackle plastic waste this holiday season:
The surest sign of prosperity is the ability to give something irreplaceable. This year, give a gift that can never be given away. Your time and yourself are not only the most sustainable gifts on the planet, but they are the greatest blessings you can offer those you love.
By: Shannon Olsson, Founder and Global Director, echo network