Sikkim University issued a circular on September 6, declaring that the use of plastic is banned on the university campus. Students and faculty have to find alternative measures to plastic bags and bottles and also take this initiative beyond the institution and into their own homes too.
A quick search on Google for eco-friendly will provide alternates as compared to the more widely used products (either made out of or packaged in plastic) are bamboo toothbrushes, woven bags, glass bottles, powdered shampoo and more.
Sikkim, in its environmental policies, has always been consistent and the contributions have garnered international attention. The following are a few from the many policies on curbing pollution and prioritizing environment in the state:
1998 – First Indian state to ban disposable plastic bags.
2016 – Banned use of packaged drinking water in government offices and events; banned the use of styrofoam/thermocol disposable plates and cutlery.
2014 – Prohibition on the manufacture, sale and use of bursting all types of firecrackers in the state
2015 – Prohibition on the burning of agricultural waste, leaves, litter, paper and garbage.
In the recent session of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification held in New Delhi, the former CM, Pawan Chamling along with other world leaders discussed issues of agroecology, organic farming, protection of biodiversity in the nation and with particular significance on the Himalayas. Not only was Sikkim lauded as the first 100% organic state in the world, but it was set as a prime example to other countries that it was possible to combat land degradation and incorporate agro-ecology to its full extent.
But, we have a long way to go – political events, once over are littered with single-use plastic bottles; no recycling plants have been built; inadequate waste management; the staggering amount of vehicles jamming roads and contributing to air pollution – all these are glaring issues that no amount of bans can fix.
If the people and leaders still hold on to a Machiavellian mindset while discussing environmental policies, growth and progress will be hindered. Our duty as citizens is to question any and all means that help the government to achieve its desired results because however easy it is to flout rules, the end should never justify the means.