PANAJI: The shopping footprint is largely contributing to Goa’s waste management crisis due to the indiscriminate habit of using cheap one-time plastic bags. If shoppers adopt a two-bag carrying practice—a cloth and a plastic one—things could be different, say those concerned about plastic waste.
The ban on plastic carry bags by municipal bodies has worked partly in increasing the use of eco-friendly materials. But regular shoppers and vendors are finding itdifficult to do away with plastic altogether for packaging fish and meats.
Carrying two bags; a cloth bag for dry foodstuff and a plastic bag above 50 microns, exclusively for fish and meats can significantly help reduce the quantity of non-biodegradable waste, sources said.
The ultimate aim is to reduce plastic consumption, said Clinton Vaz, an entrepreneur in the recycling business. “But a thicker plastic bag for carrying only fish and meat every time will have a longer life (of the bag). This will help cut down on single-use plastic bags being handed out in markets,” he said.
Plastic has its good uses and properties and cannot be totally banned. “We cannot completely eradicate plastic, but if we wash and use thick plastic bags for fish, it will help reduce plastic waste,” Urmila Desai, a retired science teacher, said.
A few concerned citizens look for alternatives realizing that if one is serious about environmental degradation, then an attitudinal change is inevitable. “Waste is happening because we feel shy to carry cloth bags. I carry a small bucket in my car for fish, which I stock for a few days,” said Lorna Fernandes, a social activist.
Shoppers carrying cloth bags or using alternatives may get curious looks. “Some giggle at the sight of the bucket in my hand but people who talk about saving the environment should also practice what they preach,” Fernandes said.
The state’s waste management crisis is also fuelled by citizens’ reckless throw-away habits, slack implementation of the ban on cheap plastic among other factors.
“Awareness among housewives about the need to avoid use of plastic whe rever possible is the need of the hour,” Desai said. When the lifestyle was a lot more environment-friendly, the garbage generated was always manageable. “Now we should become thick-skinned to save our environment,” Fernandes said.