PANAJI: Straws, cutlery and other such single-use plastics have been recognised as the largest contributor to the plastic menace the world over. In Goa, one of the biggest challenges facing citizens is refraining from the use of the cheap use-and-throw bags that are handed out so freely.

Those working in the field of solid waste management point out that such plastics alone cannot be labelled as evil. The evil lies in the way they are used, or rather, abused.

“Of course, it is advisable to keep a cloth bag in your car or in your handbag at all times. But there is also no harm in using a plastic bag as long as we reuse its multiple times. We, however, wish that the authorities in Goa impose a complete ban on single-use plastic bags. One can see plastic bags of thickness below the legally permissible limit being freely handed out in markets everywhere,” Clinton Vaz, founder of waste management service vRecycle, said.

Vaz said takeaway food services themselves right from chaat stalls to fine dining family restaurants generate one of the largest amounts of single-use plastic waste in Goa.

“Citizens just need to take their own containers to collect bhel or take a bag in which to place takeaway orders,” he said.

To do away with the use of plastic straws, the solution is simple, Vaz said. “Put your lips to the glass and enjoy the beverage. One should not even be talking about alternatives as there is no need for them. A mindset change is required. We just don’t need a straw.”

In Calangute, restaurateur Clinton Fernandes has stopped all use of straws in his establishment. “We have also stopped buying packaged drinking water. Instead, we serve purified drinking water in reusable glass bottles. This saves waste of around 100 to 200 plastic bottles being created everyday,” Fernandes, who had also initiated the ‘Team Up to Clean Up Goa’ drive, said.

During cleaning of beaches and other public areas frequented by tourists, Fernandes said he observed that, apart from glass bottles, single-use plastic cups constituted the largest chunk of the waste generated.

“Though our initiative received a lot of attention, it was after conducting around 15 drives that I realised it just didn’t make sense to keep cleaning after others littered. People must be sensitised. You see Goans themselves just drawing down their car windows to discard while they drop their children to school. When the child witnesses this, we are only helping create a new generation of litter bugs,” Fernandes said.

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