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What does it mean to "Go GREEN"?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

As we know each World Environment Day is organized around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for 2018 is beating plastic pollution.

Plastic cause many minor and major ecological and environmental issues. The most general issue with plastic bags is the amount of waste produced. Many plastic bags, pet bottles end up on streets and subsequently pollute major water sources, rivers, and streams. Even when disposed of properly, they take many years to decompose and break down, generating large amounts of garbage over long periods of time. If not disposed of properly the bags can pollute waterways, clog sewers and have been found in oceans affecting the habitat of animals and marine creatures.

In 2002, India banned the production of plastic bags below 20 µm in thickness to prevent plastic bags from clogging of the municipal drainage systems and to prevent the cows of India ingesting plastic bags as they confuse it for food. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has also passed regulation to ban all polythene bags less than 50 microns on 18 March 2016. Due to poor implementation of this regulation, regional authorities(states and municipal corporations), have had to implement their own regulation.In 2016, Sikkim, India's first fully organic state, banned the use of not only packaged drinking water bottles in any government meetings or functions but also food containers made from polystyrene foam all over the state. Himachal Pradesh was the first state to ban plastic bags less than 30 µm. The Karnataka state became first state to ban all forms of plastic carry bags, plastic banners, plastic buntings, flex, plastic flags, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic spoons, cling films and plastic sheets for spreading on dining tables irrespective of thickness including the above items made of thermocol and plastic which uses plastic microbeads. The state of Goa has banned bags up to 40 µm thick, while the state Government of Maharashtra banned plastic starting 23 June 2018.

Generate less waste

Waste is not something that should be discarded or disposed of with no regard for future use. It can be a valuable resource if addressed correctly, through policy and practise. With rational and consistent waste management practises there is an opportunity to reap a range of benefits. Those benefits include:

  1. Economic - Improving economic efficiency through the means of resource use, treatment and disposal and creating markets for recycles can lead to efficient practices in the production and consumption of products and materials resulting in valuable materials being recovered for reuse and the potential for new jobs and new business opportunities.
  2. Social - By reducing adverse impacts on health by proper waste management practises, the resulting consequences are more appealing civic communities. Better social advantages can lead to new sources of employment and potentially lifting communities out of poverty especially in some of the developing poorer countries and cities.
  3. Environmental - Reducing or eliminating adverse impacts on the environment through reducing, reusing and recycling, and minimizing resource extraction can result in improved air and water quality and help in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. Inter-generational Equity - Following effective waste management practises can provide subsequent generations a more robust economy, a fairer and more inclusive society and a cleaner environment.

Recycle everything that cannot be reused

Not everything has a market. Remember that recycling is a business with the economics driven by supply and demand - just like any other business. Is there a demand by a manufacturer for a particular material? Are they willing to pay for this material, like they would any other type of raw material? Of course, what often drives the manufacturer's demand for a material type is the consumer's demand for the end product. By buying products containing recycled materials, we "close the loop". When the loop is closed, markets are developed and recycling those materials makes more economic sense. In short, in order for anything to be recycled, it must have a market to be sold to. Be a part of the solution, buy recycled!

As technology improves more materials will become easier to recycle in communities nationwide. In order for materials to be recycled, markets must exist and there must be a demand for the end products. If stable markets do not exist, materials are often stock-piled and could ultimately end up at the landfill. We want to ensure there is a stable market for a item before we add it to our collection. You can help create stable markets for recyclables by buying recycled!

Educate the community on eco-friendly options

You can't just point towards one business or practice and blame them for all of our environmental woes, everything fits together like a puzzle. The more that we all do our part – the faster we will create an entire ecology of living that promotes sustainability. The first step is to begin to understand the basics of what each part of life can do to become more environmentally friendly. The next step is to begin to learn to make different choices on a personal level that start to change your awareness, and consumption of resources. The changes are surprisingly easy to make, there are more ways than you can imagine to begin to practice conservation.

In the environmentally friendly community there is more than just a good recycling program in place. Communities that are committed to conservation and preservation of resources work to encourage options like community playgrounds, public transportation, green construction and work to change the way that fossil fuels and other resources are used to support community services

Evaluate the environmental impact of actions

Environmental Impact of Actions (EIA) is a structured approach for obtaining and evaluating environmental information prior to its use in decision-making in the development process. This information consists, basically, of predictions of how the environment is expected to change if certain alternative actions are implemented and advice on how best to manage environmental changes if one alternative is selected and implemented. Until relatively recently, with a few notable exceptions, EIA focused on proposed physical developments such as highways, power stations, water resource projects and large-scale industrial facilities. Slowly, but increasingly, its scope of application is expanding to include policies, plans and other actions which also form part of the development process.

Decision-makers are provided, by EIA, with information (and often recommendations) on the anticipated consequences of their choices. EIA is, therefore, a management tool with technical input, not a technical aid with 'add on' management aspects. This distinction is crucial to an understanding of the objectives of EIA and how it can best be implemented.

Since 1996 a better application named Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) as the formalized, systematic and comprehensive process of identifying and evaluating the environmental consequences of proposed policies, plans or programmes to ensure that they are fully included and appropriately addressed at the earliest possible stage of decision-making on a par with economic and social considerations.

SEA, by its nature, covers a wider range of activities or a wider area and often over a longer time span than the environmental impact assessment of projects.SEA is commonly described as being proactive and 'sustainability driven', whilst EIA is often described as being largely reactive.

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