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Time to switch to sustainable alternatives to plastic: Dia Mirza

Actor, Producer, UNEP Goodwill Ambassador & UN SG's Advocate for Sustainable Development Goals, Dia Mirza has been at the forefront of the 'Beat Plastic Pollution' campaign for many years now and has consistently made statements about the need for meaningful action. As India imposes a ban on single-use plastic items like straws, cigarette packets, cutlery, earbuds, packaging films, plastic sticks for balloons, candy and ice cream among other products from July 1, Dia hopes that the toxic waste that seeps into aquatic ecosystems and even our food chain, will reduce.

She says, "The new ban makes it illegal to produce, import, stock, distribute or sell single-use plastics. The fact that the ban is not just on the use of plastic, but also its production is significant. Over 14 million tonnes of plastic is used in India annually but we have failed to manage the ensuing waste responsibly. This year in May, we saw a fire breaking out in one of Delhi's landfills. This could get more frequent if we don't act now. It is time to switch to sustainable alternatives to plastic and make sure that our rivers, oceans and eco-sensitive regions become free of plastic waste."

She recommends a few earth-friendly options that can help replace plastic in our lives:

Canvas and cloth bags

Dia says, "I carry a few sturdy cloth and canvas bags everywhere I go. These are long-lasting, greener, easily washable and inexpensive. They are easily available and are perfect to cut down plastic waste caused by plastic bags that are so easily handed out even in high-end stores." Upcycling old clothes and refusing fast fashion also prevents waste from reaching landfills, she adds.

Metal and bamboo straws

During beach holidays, Dia is often horrified to see plastic waste and straws littering the sand. She says, "I have been carrying a metal straw with me for a few years now because the amount of damage a single plastic straw can do when it reaches the aquatic food chain is enormous. Even bamboo straws are easily available now and we can all do our bit to refuse plastic in whatever way we can. Stainless steel straws are my favourite because they are easy to clean and last forever."

Wood and metal cutlery

During her shoots and while travelling, Dia carries her own steel and bamboo cutlery set and says, "During my recent shoot for 'DhakDhak', we travelled extensively across Himalayan terrain. It is during times like this that I am particularly mindful of not littering, and using sustainable alternatives to plastic cutlery and disposable plates."
Her cutlery set contains multiple spoons, forks and fabric napkins and she refuses to use plastic in any form while travelling.

Insulated travel mugs and metal bottles

Says Dia, "On shoots and while travelling, it is easy to lose track of the plastic waste that is generated from coffee and tea mugs as well as plastic water bottles . I recommend insulated travel mugs and metal water bottles to everyone because they just make it so easy to cut down on plastic mindfully. " Plastic bottles are one of the biggest waste generators on the planet and Dia hopes more people can switch to greener options.

A greener kitchen

Dia once gave a tour of her kitchen on camera to demonstrate how to cut down on plastic. She says, "I shared how we use newspapers instead of plastic bags to line our bins. From the plate rack to storage containers and jars, every object in my kitchen is sustainable." Dia also recommends buying pulses, spices and rice from whole-sale shops and using steel containers and bags to carry them home. She says, "We must find ways to reduce our dependence on plastic packaging."

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