On 13th December 2019, on the occasion of ‘Kodi Habba’, The Clean Kundapura Project and FSL India jointly organised an awareness campaign about Anti-Plastic and Sea Turtle Conservation along with the FSL India volunteer’s staff and Clean Kundapura Project volunteers during the Koteshwara festival.
The team members of Clean Kundapura Project and FSL India volunteers spread awareness among the festival visitors through distributing flyers and interacting with them. Since many shop keepers used plastics for packing items, we visited shops and talked about how using plastic is not good for the environment and human beings. Since plastic can’t be composted, we suggested alternatives such as using old newspapers, cotton carrying bags, wooden spoons and straws to become an eco friendly shopkeeper.
When interacting with festival visitors, we would ask questions such as “What do you do with plastics after use?” Most of them replied that they put it in a dustbin, but didn’t know what happens to it afterwards. Common knowledge is that waste ends up in landfills or is just burnt. Since it is difficult to find good ways of managing the plastic waste, we promoted alternatives like opting for other materials instead of plastics or reducing plastic use in general. Hands-on tips that we tried to spread were for example:
- Carrying your own bag and containers when going to the market
- Reusing the same water bottle for drinking
- Thinking twice before purchasing something that comes in a one time-use plastic wrapper.
Everyone knows that it’s not good to use plastic. Still it’s difficult to avoid, plastic being such a widespread material in people’s everyday life. Given all the plastic waste visible in streets, people seem quite ignorant. On another hand, the waste management system is not well organised. It’s an opening for an endless blame game if nothing changes. Our opinion is that the people in power should make a bigger effort to implement proper waste management systems nationwide, in both cities and small villages. There would be needed both the management system itself and also actions for following up and creating both awareness and motivating people to keep up with “Clean India”.
Littering and not handling plastic waste properly not only causes environmental issues in the future. Very much ‘here and now’, plastic pollution is threatening the survival of thousands of species, among them Sea Turtles. Because they play an essential role in the marine ecosystem, FSL India decided to protect Sea Turtles in particular. Plastic in the sea may be mistaken for food by Sea Turtles and can cause fatal injuries. Plastic on the beaches keeps them from crawling to land and laying their eggs.
Therefore, the volunteers of the Sea turtle Conservation Programme participated in the promotion of plastic reduction. In addition, we distributed flyers with a Sea Turtle Conservation emergency number on it. If anyone finds wounded Sea Turtles or nests on the beach, they could just call the number and FSL India would take care of the issue, e. g. by informing the forest officials, veterinarian, or building protective hatcheries around the nests.
All in all, our awareness campaign was a success. We got in touch with many people who were interested and concerned about plastic reduction, and have hopefully called some visitors’ attention to it. Nonetheless, does the fact remain, that without a well organised waste management and recycling system and governmental regulations on avoidable plastic use, plastic pollution will not decrease significantly.