Plastic is a sweet sorrow! Indeed, a wonderful creation of mankind I’ts brought us to a stage of no-return from the environmental degradation happening worldwide. Not a day passes by without the entry of plastic into our lovely homes. Simply because it is malleable, ductile, resists wear and tear, cheaply available and extremely useful we cannot imagine a world without plastics bur ironically, the world is never going to be the same with such a steady flow of plastic-based goods and products dominating our lives. Dominating every domain right from medical supplies to food industry, bottles to bags how do you think we are going to find a replacement for this versatile material?
Refurbishing Our Kitchen
Our day starts with a dose of coffee/tea that’s made from milk that’s delivered to our house in a neatly packed plastic pouch! Every single day sees a new initiate for replacing plastic with better eco-friendly materials but there hasn’t been a replacement found for milk packets in plastic pouches until now. We do have our tetra packs and slim milk pouches but how about considering the common man’s affordability whose staple includes the humble milk! Our kitchens suffocate with aplenty plastic wares and bags that predominantly serve various purposes-storing groceries, packaging veggies into the refrigerator, using small plastic containers for storing left-over meals, sending our loved one’s meals and so on. Even the garbage container is covered with a plastic bag every day for easy throwaway of our thrash!
Outside our homes too plastics play an integral role in helping vendors and even big shot markets sell their products. Many of the veggies such as cucumbers and carrots come in plastic wrapping, fruits such as cherries, strawberries and kiwis are neatly packed in plastic boxes and styrofoam packaging is used basically to pack away any food sold as a takeaway-instant noodles, raw meats to pizzas. Restaurants and eateries too use these styrofoam packaging trays and plates for easy and safe delivery of their foods and beverages. In 2015 alone more than 320 million tons of plastic was produced globally. At such a stage, is it practically possible to eliminate plastic from our life altogether and move over to a better alternative? Recycling is an option but, is the effort of using alternatives for plastic actually worth the time, money and labor that goes into them and are they better on the environment from every perspective? That’s something that needs to be considered in elaboration!
An Important Mission in the Kitchen
We make a compost to make our kitchen a better place and we have replaced our plastic straws with paper straws. Supermarkets too have paper bags that are available to weigh your produce and pack them into your carts and your groceries are delivered in paper bags. But do you know that it takes four times the energy to produce a paper bag compared to a plastic bag (https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/plastic_free_kitchen)? Weight-wise too, paper bags are heavier than plastic ones adding more burden on transportation emission. All these efforts become useful only if we reuse paper bags at least thrice after they reach our homes to combat environmental degradation caused by plastic bags that are used once. But sadly, these paper bags aren’t reused-either they tear away not withstanding total weight or are thrown away into the bin immediately after reaching home. Contrarily, many have started producing low-density polyethylene bags of lower microns that are better on our planet. Cotton bags are a better option as they are long-lasting but mind you, these need to be used for more than 100 times to reduce plastic pollution.
Its cool to recommend replacements but cucumbers, bananas and potatoes stay for longer days when wrapped in plastic; rice, wheat and dhal are sold wrapped in plastic and when this becomes off limits there always exists the dangers of spoilage by water or damage. All these remind us of our early golden days where milk was fetched in containers from the milk booths, dhal, rice and pulses were available mostly from government-owned subsidies that delivered these products in home-brought containers and there was no concept of supermarkets-people directly bought from local vendors or farmers and used them fresh daily. Transportation of exotic produce, storing produce for months together and reaping harvests and hiding them away for selling them in sky rocketed prices never existed back then. Recreating such a scenario is next to impossible but all we can do is to bring about effective changes for a better and sustainable future.
Introducing Kitchen Sustainability
Start small, buildup on your ideologies and achieve your goal.
We have started recycling but we now have to focus on reducing the consumption of plastic. Plastics have become a part of our lives due to their versatile use and it could take a lot more time than we wish to eliminate them from our day-to-day lives. But until them, each of us can take every single step possible to stay away from this ‘sweet sorrow’ materials.
Cut Your Use of Plastic: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/cut-your-use-of-plastic-plastic-plastic-36321324/
5 Weird Materials that Could Replace Plastic: https://theweek.com/articles/705421/5-weird-materials-that-could-replace-plastic
Can you Really Have a Plastic-Free Kitchen? https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/plastic_free_kitchen
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.