Growing up in Kolkata, I did not have the chance to go and sit by the beach anytime I wanted, like the lucky folks living in Mumbai! But after a friend in Mumbai told me about how he hated going to the beaches there since they are so filthy. He told me how packets of chips and gutkha, and plastic bottles are scattered everywhere. I felt sorry, and I realised no place can be beautiful with garbage and plastics scattered everywhere. That’s the state of most of the holiday spots around our country, tourists and holiday goers throng to these places and litter these places. However, there are still some beautiful destinations in India that have successfully kept plastics at bay and have worked towards conserving the natural beauty.
Ooty Has Fought Back The Menace Of Plastics Fiercely
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The queen of hills in the south, Ooty was the first Indian town that banned plastics. Ooty woke up to the alarm as the Nilgiris and the Ooty Lake was losing their beauty as people dumped plastics in there. Ooty banned the use of plastics altogether and have since then switched to paper and cloth bags. Unlike a few years ago, streets of Ooty lay clean without any traces of plastics. The awareness of the local people has helped the place from the harmful use of plastics, and preserving natural beauty. Ooty has done a commendable job of taking its environment seriously. Apart from banning plastics, they have also banned styrofoam or thermocol, silver foils, cling wrap, laminated bakery boxes, water bottles of less than 1 litre. Ooty has faced the fragile environment and has fought back the menace of plastics fiercely. They have also put up ‘no plastics’ banners and signboards everywhere to raise the awareness not only among locals but for tourists too. Locals also organise drives to clean up areas of the abandoned plastics.
Sikkim Is The First Indian State To Ban Plastics
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Sikkim is a place where you will not find any plastics. The people of Sikkim use paper or cloth bags instead of plastics. I have been to Sikkim numerous times, and it amazes me how the small Indian state has realised the harmful effect of plastics and are working towards not using them. Ban on plastics is also levied in Kolkata, but the people of the city have only gained more moolah from it. While plastic bags used to be free with retail chains like Westside, Pantaloons, and more, they soon started charging the customers for the ‘banned’ plastic bags. What a shame! On the other hand, as you enter Sikkim, and you throw any plastics on the road, the drivers of your car will be the first ones to tell you that you are not supposed to throw plastics on the streets of Sikkim. There are designated bins, where you can throw the plastic bags or wrappers of chips, biscuits, or candies. A proper waste management of the state takes care of all those plastics in the bin. Also Sikkim has been combating the use of plastics since 2002, the commercialisation has allowed the entry of plastic bottles into the state.
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The Lingchom Secondary School, in a small village called Gyalshing in Sikkim, has come forward in dealing with the plastic waste of the state. The teachers of the Lingchom Secondary School have encouraged the students to go to the adjacent areas in search of plastics. They go to nearby houses and also gather waste from the bins, two to three time a week. After school hours, the teachers and students watch Youtube videos, and make different products of household decoration or utility. The edgy network connection does not deter the small ones from making wall-hangings to pots for plants. They take home some of the things and sell the rest in an annual exhibition-cum-sale event organised by the school. This is just one example; there are more schools in Sikkim that discourage the use of plastics.
Jolly Bouy Island Sparkles Clean Sans Any Plastics
Image Credit: Krupa Mehta
The Jolly Bouy beach in Andamans is especially known for being plastic-free, besides its pristine beauty. The authority is so strict here that they have arranged for baggage counters for tourists before entering the beach. If you want to visit the Jolly Bouy beach, you will first need to deposit all the plastics that you might be carrying with you with designated people. This way tourists are checked from littering the beautiful beach with plastic scraps. Krupa Mehta, a Deputy Manager in a bank, had been to Jolly Bouy Island. She shares, “Jolly Bouy is extremely clean and the authorities have tried and maintained the corals and the marine life. We should encourage such practices of not allowing plastic and giving alternate to plastic on reasonable rate.” On being asked if beaches of Mumbai or Chennai can also be kept plastic-free, she added, “Yes, Mumbai or Chennai beaches can also be made that clean with a strict vigil and of course restricting use of plastic.” Jolly Bouy restricts visiting time at the beach to 3-hours in a day, and the authorities ensure the beach is clean after it is closed for the public.
The initiative of these places to keep plastics at bay, or to recycle them has turned them into beautiful hill stations adorned with greeneries. We often cannot imagine life without using plastics but take a trip to these places to see how they have managed their daily lives without including plastics.