March 24, 2013

Plastic Waste - Issues and Solutions

Hi Guys,

Plastic has been one of the greatest inventions of all time. Plastics have been used in various places and their properties have made plastics a great object. But, the fact that plastics are non biodegradable in nature and there is a lot of plastic waste out there in the world makes things looks bad.

One of the things that have become unavoidable in our life is the use of Polythene covers. The fact that it is cheap and thick enough to store things makes it favourable for people to use it. Whenever we go out to buy something, we expect the shopkeeper to give the things in a Polythene cover. Even though we can carry an alternative carry bag in most of the occasions, we do not do it. Apart from the Polythene covers there are various disposable plastic materials like Straws, bottles, cups, etc.

These disposable plastics when dumped in Earth take 1000 years to degrade. Sometimes they are put in landfills and some microbes that speed up the degradation are also added. This process speeds up the degradation process, but it also releases harmful Methane gas in the air.

These polythene covers occupying the landfills block the penetration of water and the water table levels go down. It also becomes a big trouble, when animals eat these plastic materials without realizing. There have been so many cases in India where dogs, cows and even Elephants die due to the Polythene covers blocking their digestive tract. So far 260 Species in the world has been affected by consumption of Plastic.

Marine Debris has been yet another problem where all these plastic materials travel in the Ocean and occupying some low lying coast or Island. Midway Atoll has been an extraordinary case of these where so many plastic items have been washed ashore. The birds that are inhabited in the Island consume these plastics and they end up dying. Just go to Youtube and search about Midway Islands and you will get lot of videos about this issue.

So, what can be done about this? A few days ago, I visited a village nearby my college. There was a cottage industry that used Polythene Covers to produce fashion goods and accessories. They got waste polythene covers from nearby places. After cleaning it up with detergents, they cut the covers into long strips that act like threads. They are used along with Cotton to produce a stiff material. These stiff materials are later cut and converted into many accessories like Bags, Pouches, Files, Flower Vases and so on. They are able to produce designs by making use of the different colored polythene covers. The plan looked so good and the end product was just great. The cost of products ranged from Rs. 40 to Rs. 300 and was very much comparable to the outside products. The quality and strength of the products were good too. The biggest problem was that they were not able to keep outlets and the scale of production was too low.
Products that are being made out of Recycled plastic in the industry. Photo Credits: Ankur Baj

These type of industries can be found and encouraged by Government. Certainly there will be many buyers for these products as they are as good as normal products and they are made from Recycled plastics too. But sadly the awareness about these type of industries and products are low. They are an efficient way of tackling the issue and creating employment too.

Apart from this, as normal people we can take some steps in our day today life to prevent plastic pollution.

  • Reduce the use of Polythene covers as much as possible. I have seen people getting polythene covers from shops just because it is provided by the shop.
  • Many people throw of plastic materials after use. For example, throwing chocolate wrappers after eating the chocolate. Instead of throwing it on the road and creating unnecessary problem, we can put in a trash bin and let the government act on it.
  • Knowing when to replace certain things can do wonders. Instead of buying a new pen, we can buy a new Refill which is available at a lower price.
  • We can buy products that are made out of Recyclable materials and buy them. We can provide recyclable vendors to Plastic collectors instead of throwing into Garbage bin.

Plastic collection has become a big problem to the Ecology and it is high time that we do something to the issue to let the environment perform well.

Happy Reading!!!

This post is written for Indiblogger’siDiya for Indichange contest conducted in association with ISB. The link to the competitions page is

March 23, 2013

The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell - Book Review

Hi Guys,

I read the book ‘The Tipping Point’ written by Malcolm Gladwell a few days ago. After reading some very good reviews about the book, I started reading the book. The book is one of the best books I have read. The book revolves around the theme of spreading a Social Epidemic. The theme of the book is ‘How little things can make a big difference’

How does an epidemic start? A person is first affected by a virus or some other microbe. If the environmental factors suit the disease to spread, the epidemic is all set to grow. Similarly we often see many social incidences spreading in a very quick span of time. The recent example is the starting of Confessions page by college students across India.

Malcolm Gladwell analyzes the factors that contribute to the Social Epidemics with lot of examples from various fields. He defines ‘Three Rules of Epidemics’ to explain the mysterious behaviour.

The first one is the Law of the Few, where he says there are a few people who contribute to the spread of news. He gives them a name – Connectors. They are people who have contact with a large group of people and can convince people. There are also other people like Mavens, who know all the information around and Persuaders. With the insightful examples given, we are able to relate from our day to day life.

The next rule is the Stickiness factor, where he says that after the news is spread, you need something sticky for the Epidemic to remain sustainable. He gives example with the help of two Children programs in USA and how they were very successful for a long period.

The third one is the Power of Context, where he says that Environment is very important. He brings in example from New York about how Urban Crime was reduced. He says about the famous Broken Window theory which says that a small broken window paves way for more people to break bigger parts. Next he goes into a magical number principle where he says there is something very powerful with 150 and brings in examples from various places of how managing a group within 150 is very efficient.

After this chapter, he gives two case studies analyzing the various factors that were discussed earlier.

This is a very good book if you are interested in knowing about Human Behaviour, Psychology or how mind works. It is a very good book for marketing people to know more about marketing a product to a mass segment. The intuitive examples make the book a very interesting read.

The author has also written two other books – ‘Blink’ and ‘The Outliers’. Both the books are said to be as good as The Tipping Point or even better. I hope to read them soon.

Happy Reading!!!