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Whatever happened to those paper cone packs?

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LOST TO THE NEW WORLD: Paper cone packs, a safe bet. Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash
LOST TO THE NEW WORLD: Paper cone packs, a safe bet. Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash

Anil Kumar Sastry

BANGALORE: Let us go back a quarter century. Bringing household monthly rations itself was quite an occasion for a day, particularly the beginning of the month. We used to take a few cloth bags to bring home the grocery, which included cereals, pulses, cooking oil, salt, atta and rice.

We waited patiently for our turn to be served. The shopkeeper neatly packed the smaller quantities in cone-shaped paper covers. We carried our own commodious bags for rice in particular. And we brought our own containers for cooking oil.

Over the years, the cone-shaped packs made way for polythene covers. And cloth bags? What are they? We now shop for entertain-ment and bring home stuff in big, good-looking polythene carry bags. It is convenient no doubt. From paper to polythene, we have undergone a change of mindset that has disastrous effects on environment of which we are a part. The shift has also been due to change in lifestyle, work pressure and not the least, utter disregard towards our fragile environment.

Some of us guiltily attempt to segregate garbage as biodegradable and non-biodegradable at the source. But most do not bother.

Catch 'em young

What is tragic is that future generations will pay for our callousness. It is imperative that we educate ourselves and our children about what we are doing to the environment. The harmful effects of plastic need to be made a part of school curricula. As children could be better teachers for their parents, such an initiative, in all probability, would bring about a change in attitude among the elders.

It is not difficult for us to carry with us cloth or our own plastic bags saved from previous shopping trips when we go shopping.

"It is easier to sermon than to practise," says former Environment Secretary A.N. Yellappa Reddy. The attitudinal change would come only through change in the mindset, of the public, shopkeepers, hoteliers and, more importantly, the local administration.

Shopkeepers and mall owners should be educated to voluntarily abandon harmful plastic bags or be compelled by legislation to do so, Mr. Reddy notes.

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