A friend of mine had a habit of not saying no to any request. If one would request him to help with homework, he would do. If someone would request him to lend some money, he will help whatever he could. On a proposal to party, he was always ready. Wherever he could, he would do without refusing. In short, he had not learned to refuse. His mother used to say on a lighter note, ‘thank god you are not born as my daughter.’ But, the person was really popular among friends. Although, he would be sometimes exhausted. It is important to know when to refuse a request. Every time, just because we can, we don’t need to say yes.

But today, we are talking about refusing those plastic items which we don’t need, thus reducing consumption and carbon footprint. Yes, this refusal is more for environmental reasons. There are many occasions where we are creating plastic waste because we don’t refuse. For example, plastic bags given by stores when you shop is better refused unless you need them. At some shops, they simply put your stuff in a bag and hand it over to you. It is your duty to refuse the bag.

Similarly, if we don’t need disposable plastic cutlery with our home-delivered food, better to refuse them, rather than accepting them just to throw away without use. We do not realize how much difference it does make to the environment if we use our steel spoon and fork rather than disposable ones. Recycling plastic is not an answer to the problem we are facing. It should be actually the least preferred option, while the first priority should be at the stage of refusal to use them.

The statistics are striking about the production and use of plastic. In 1950, about 2 million tonnes of plastic was produced, currently total plastic in the world has crossed 368 billion tonnes. 40% of the plastic produced in the world is used for packing material. And 40% of the total plastic used is thrown away after one month. It is expected that by 2025, total plastic production may go up to 600 billion tonnes, which will be more than double the weight of the total population on earth. Of the total 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic produced between 1950-2017, only 600 million tonnes were recycled. About 5 billion tonnes ended up in landfills or simply were discarded in the environment. Lot of this plastic ends up in rivers and oceans, affecting the marine ecology also. Success in recycling is not high and it also consumes energy and resources. In a recent report, it was noted that the UK exported 688,000 tonnes of discarded plastics for recycling in 2020. Not all of them were actually recycled successfully, you can google the report.

Therefore, refusing is a better way of reducing plastic mountains on the earth.

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