March 12, 2024

You Can Make The Difference

What do you feel when you see garbage floating in the ocean? Anger, disappointment, frustration, disgust, sadness..? Plastic bottles, plastic bags, noodles packets, chocolates and supari covers, old slippers and rigifoam boxes – you can find all of these, and more, in what is meant to be our “crystal clear water” of Maldives. But how did these items end up there?

If asked, we generally get defensive saying - “It’s not me who tossed it to the ocean, I have nothing to do with it. It’s others…”. Many of us throw garbage on the ground or leave it on the side of the road with a simple justification - “There are no waste bins around here, how am I supposed to bin it?!”. But the sad truth is - we won’t preserve this stunning and fragile environment unless each of us takes responsibility and start making a difference.

On 26th September 2019, at the 74th session of the United Nation’s General Assembly(UNGA) President Solih announced the phasing-out of single-use plastics. He said that the most polluting single-use plastic items, such as small water bottles and many single-use plastic bags, would be phased out by 2023.

Great initiative from the government and we are looking forward to see a list of items that will be banned first and some real steps towards achieving the noble goals. But why don’t we, as enlightened individuals, take action right now?

Let me share with you a bit of my statistics - a small veggie shop in Male uses approximately 6000 plastic bags per week, that’s 312,000 per year! And how many shops are out there?! Do the math’s yourself… That alone is a shocking figure…..yet we can change it!

And to start with, let’s say “NO” to the plastic bags!

Refusing plastic bags it’s easier than you think, just keep a few linen or paper bags with you when you are going to the market or shop and when you see that storekeeper is about to place your goodies in the plastic bag simply say “Thank you, I don’t need a plastic bag”.. Believe me, it feels amazing, just try to do this once and you will feel great about yourself.

If you think that blue colour plastic bags are safe because you have been told they are ‘biodegradable’, you are mistaken. Biodegradable plastic requires certain conditions to dissolve, and they take time. Before that happens, plastic bags can easily find their way to the ocean where fish, turtles and other innocent sea creatures will consume them.

I am writing this not to prove that I am right and others are wrong, I am writing this because I love Maldives!

I don’t want to see my second motherland sinking in tons of garbage, I don’t want to feed fish with microplastic to my family, I don’t want to be a part of the destruction of beautiful surroundings, I don’t want to contribute to global warming and coral bleaching… And what about you? What do you want...?

Written by
Viktoriia Lavrinets