Traditionally Goan lifestyle has been sustainable. Being an agricultural state, fresh produce was probably sourced from farms situated in close proximity. This would reduce the carbon footprints. Apart from that, foods were packed or eaten on banana leaves which are compostable and can be easily returned to the earth without generating waste.
However, as time progressed and with the influence of the West, people's lifestyles started changing. Busy work life and added responsibilities made reliability on plastics the norm and now we have something called the plastic culture.
The convenience of plastic packaging has overburdened our landfills. Usually plastic needs to be first manufactured and then recycled to end its life. Travellers prefer to travel light and what better way than plastics? A part of the quantum of plastic generated is by the large number of tourists who come to Goa.
The State generates the most amount of plastic waste in the entire country. It was about 26,000 tonnes per annum (TPA) of plastic waste in 2019-20, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.
Therefore, a sustainable lifestyle is the need of the hour. It is imperative, that we change our habits and switch over to reusable products to get rid of single-use plastics from our lives.
While some changes can be hard, below are some very easy ones to start with.
1. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
When there is a need for something, pause for a few days and ask yourself whether you want it. If you still do, check at home if you already have it. If not, ask your friends and family whether you can borrow it. If you need it permanently and it's not being used by them, buy it at second hand price from them. You could even choose to buy it from a thrift store.
Buy a new one only as a last resort. On the other hand, if you are offered something, take it only if you need it or refuse it. At the end of the cycle, make sure to recycle it responsibly.
2. Buy loose
Whether it's groceries or toiletries, try to buy them loose, that is package free. You could carry your own container and ask the store to fill it up. In case you don't have a container that day, ask them if you can borrow theirs and return it cleaned.
If there is a need for packaging, go for compostable options like paper or leaves. This needs to be without a plastic lining and zip lock on the inside. The next best option may be aluminum foil packaging as it can be cleaned and recycled. However, this shouldn't be confused with multi-layer plastic which may look like foil.
3. Switch off
Taps and switches are often left on by mistake or sometimes on purpose when not necessary. Ask yourself whether you really need to keep them on. You may be able to make do with the phone torch in the worst case you need lighting. While travelling, remember to turn off the vehicle at signals and other long pauses. This would reduce pollution.
4. Carry reusable bags
Carrying your own bag is probably the best way to reduce waste. Yet, so many people are seen taking plastic bags from vendors. It's best to keep a reusable bag handy, so you always have one when needed.
(Heena Shah is an avid traveller and covers topics such as sustainable travel and lifestyle. Got comments, suggestions? Contact: Explorer.firstname.lastname@example.org)