Pakistan Dumps 8 Million Tons Of Plastic A Year. I Went To Learn More About This Ticking Time Bomb.

By Sajeer Shaikh | 24 Sep, 2018

When we think about environmental issues, we know for a fact that the Earth has become a ticking time bomb.

It’s convenient to think this will impact a future generation, but if there’s anything I learned by attending WWF Pakistan’s #BeatPlasticPollution event, it’s that the time to take action is now.

With this in mind, I headed out on a Sunday to Dolmen Mall Clifton, where the team had set up a stall. I did, of course, Snapchat the entire thing on MangoBaaz’s account, so I do have videos of what went down at the event.

Now, upon reaching, I noticed a cute little stall with a bunch of bottles in transparent containers. There were already plenty of bottles there, so I figured this had been going on for a while. Upon inquiring, I found that the team had collected quite a lot of bottles over the course of the activity.

I asked Maha – a WWF Pakistan representative – about what was going down. She was kind enough to explain the initiative and how I could go about contributing to it. Here’s what she said:

And then she explained how it all works:

Okay, so basically, you could put 3 bottles into the container to get a chance to Spin The Wheel and win a prize. I understood, of course, that the prizes were a hook to get people to care enough to dump bottles that would otherwise be found lying around. There was a bit of bittersweet tinge to it all. At the end of the day, it was kind of disheartening how an incentive had to be presented in order for us to do the bare minimum.

Regardless, people were legit showing interest. They’d come, dump bottles, spin the wheel, collect their prize and leave. Even a little baby was there to do the same.

See, so cute! What a little superhero:

As time passed, I managed to meet the Regional Director, Dr. Babar Khan, too. I spoke to him, he filled me in about WWF Pakistan’s plan of action and why they were doing what they were doing.

After he introduced himself and the activity…

…he spoke a bit about what it is that WWF Pakistan does.

Just to give everyone else a bit of background here, too: WWF Pakistan was formed in 1970.

The main aim has always been – as Dr. Babar also explained – to spearhead projects around conservation and to tackle the various environmental issues that plague Pakistan. With an average of 30 active projects in Pakistan so far, the organization shows no signs of stopping and has, since its inception, come a long way.

The immensity of this particular project was such that even celebrities showed up to lend their support. For instance, Ayesha Omar was present…

…As was Rabab Hashim.

The best part was how they, too, were actively contributing to the activity, thereby setting an example for others as well.

Shortly after, a HUGE crowd had started gathering. People came prepped with their bottles. It was actually pretty great to see that Karachiites were all set to support a good cause.

While I was prepping to leave, I got a goodbye message from Maha who said the initiative would continue till the 14th of August.

Plastic pollution has long devastated our environment. And the fact that we’re terrible at recycling really doesn’t help our case. Here are some shocking facts that I found on WWF Pakistan’s website: 

“It is estimated that globally about 8 million tons of plastics are deliberately dumped in the sea or finds its way there through wind or flow of rivers and urban runoff. This is approximately equivalent to the dumping of a garbage truck into marine waters every minute.”

Source: dawn.com

Additionally, I also found this: “65 percent of garbage that litter beaches along Pakistan’s coast consist of plastics, which includes mineral water bottles, caps, polythene bags, balloons, wrappers, shoes, broken utensils, Styrofoam and discarded fishing nets.”

Okay, that’s a lot. But what does that mean for us, right? Well:

“The issue of plastic pollution along Pakistan’s coast is a major concern and is worsening due to an inadequate solid waste disposal system in the city. Most plastics that enter the sea become a serious threat to marine life due to their non-degradable nature.”

Source: bitlanders.com

How does this impact us directly, though? 

Owing to a large amount of plastic waste, the chemicals within get released into the water. In turn, marine life – including the fish we consume – become contaminated. In this way, the chemicals from plastic pollution directly impact the food chain.

Numerous toxins are ingested by marine life. And we, in turn, consume much of this marine life too.

The toxins plastics carry are directly linked to numerous diseases, such as cancer. They can compromise our immune system and cause birth defects and childhood developmental issues.

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Plastic is creating a 400 year problem! We are not just suffocating the oceans, which give us life but are also eating plastics. It’s time to come together to beat plastic pollution. This World Environment Day, pledge to cut back on your single use plastic waste. You can also join our #WWFPakClicks series by sharing pictures on the theme, Horrors of single use plastic waste / How to combat single use plastic waste. Don't forget to tag us and add the hashtags #WWFPakClicks and #BanPlasticBags. The best pictures will be featured on our instagram account. . . #WorldEnvironmentDay #wwf #wwfpak #BeatPlasticPollution #BanPlasticBags #Pakistan #SaveOurSpecies #SavingNature #togetherpossible #Connect2Earth #plasticpollution #biodiversity #oceans #WWFPakClicks

A post shared by WWF-Pakistan (@wwfpak) on

If there’s anything I learned, it’s that we need to stop utilizing plastic as much as we do. Honestly, we could do a few of the following to help the situation:

  • Stop buying bottled water. We’ve all got those flasks/glass bottles sitting at home. They’re reusable and refillable. We can all use em’.
  • Switch to shopping bags that aren’t made of plastic, or just carry your own non-plastic bags. Again, you can reuse them and this tiny step will go a long way.
  • Skip the usage of straws. Matlab, how important are straws to you, truly? Wohi drink normally bhi pee ja sakti hai. Straws are completely unnecessary and they gotta go.
  • Reuse containers for storage that aren’t made of plastic – like glass jars.

These are just SOME of the things we can do. Of course, while we’re starting small, there’s plenty more that can be done on a larger scale. And that’s why we need organizations like WWF Pakistan – to help us see how.

Because, here’s the thing: the Earth IS a ticking time bomb, but let’s not pretend we’re not to blame, for we truly are. Let’s take responsibility and change the current narrative.

Source: wwfpak.org

Therefore, we need more of such campaigns that raise awareness and distribute accountability and responsibility, while doubling as modes of learning. You can read up more about WWF Pakistan, their future ventures and their fight against plastic on their website.

At the end of the day, with all this in mind, we have to ask ourselves – are we doing our part?

 

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Cover image via WWF Pakistan

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