The Goa International airport, located in Dabolim, is the only airport of the state of Goa, and handles over eight million passengers annually. Most of the foods and beverages sold there come in disposables – plates, cups, cutlery, tissues, cup lids and straws. Now, imagine if at least six million of those passengers gets one food item and a beverage, each. That would generate at least thirty six million pieces of waste! Enough to cover at least a few football fields. Quite a lot, don’t you think?
Even worse, according to the Wikipedia article on ‘Waste Management in India’, 50% of the waste in India is dumped in landfills. This landfill waste is of no value to anyone and only releases greenhouse gases, leachates, etc which are hazardous.
With global temperatures shooting up and garbage mountains growing, tackling this waste responsibly is the need of the hour, even at the airport level.
So, what is the Goa International Airport doing to curb this waste problem, and what you can do?
Pet bottle shredder at GOI
While it's best to avoid PET bottles and carry your own bottles, sometimes their use is inevitable. Foreigners usually resort to these. Often PET bottles are used again and sold as a scam. So, at such times, the PET bottle shredder can be utilised.
Segregation of waste at Goa airport
There are a number of dustbins kept around the airport that mention the different categories, with graphics too. Waste can be segregated into Paper, Plastic/Can and Food. This segregation at source, helps the clean waste to stay in a similar condition and becomes easier to recycle later.
Sensor activated water fountain at GOI
These are great additions to airports as you can get filtered drinking water without having to purchase plastic bottles. You can sip directly from the fountain or fill your reusable bottle. They are usually installed at two heights that cater to adults as well as kids. They work like sensor fit taps and hand dryers. You have to place your hand in front of the sensor and only then the water starts to pour. It’s a great solution for when taps were left on and water was wasted.
Awareness of avoiding SUP by GOI
The awareness boards are a good reminder to say no to Single Use Plastic (SUP) items. This is important because the world has around four Mount Everest's worth of waste and only 9% of it is recycled, according to PureCult.com. They also mention, "Plastics don’t biodegrade; they just slowly turn into microplastics, tiny particles of plastic. Not only does this pose a danger to marine life, but these micro-plastics also release toxic chemicals that eventually transfer into the atmosphere, plant life and animal tissue."
What can you do?
You can be a responsible flyer by carrying various reusables.
A coffee cup saves paper cups that come with a plastic lining and is not biodegradable.
A water bottle keeps us from resorting to packaged drinking water. Also, it is best to carry a filled bottle on the flight as bottled water is provided on them.
Cutlery helps by skipping wooden cutlery which is, in fact, made by cutting down trees. Also the taste then is of the food along with that of wood.
A box is a good idea to skip single use plates as well as takeout any leftovers. This would mean less wastage of food.
A napkin helps skip tissue papers and wet wipes.
Better way to get to the airport?
While cabs are most commonly used to travel to the airport and back, travelling by bus would be the most sustainable. The Kadamba Bus Corporation LTD runs buses six times a day from Calangute, Panjim and back from the airport. Bookings can be made in advance on Goakadamba.com
So, are you ready for a more sustainable journey when you fly next time?
(Heena Shah is an avid traveller and covers topics such as sustainable travel and lifestyle. Got comments, suggestions? Contact: Explorer.firstname.lastname@example.org)