Plastics carried by rivers are deposited in the banks of many other places and carried to the ocean, harming the marine ecosystem. Plastics take years to degrade, but minimizing their use and proper disposal can be a relatively easy task, says Muskan Acharya
When I first came to Damauli (a place in Nepal), I fell in love with the outstanding beauty of the Seti-Madi conjunction. The area exuded tranquillity, with Peepal trees lining its banks. It almost felt like a gateway to know nature in all its forms, a sacred space where people could be one with nature.
So, it wasn’t a surprise that people always mentioned the river whenever asked about the places I could visit around Damauli Bazaar. Ved Vyas Cave and other religious relics of the Hindu religion surround the place, making it pious for many Hindus around its area. One can witness Hindu religious figures while walking around and children with their little feet running around, adding their voices to the songs of the birds.
But, as they say, even diamonds have a shadow; it wasn’t surprising that this heaven on earth had a dark side too. On one hand, the serenity of the rivers made it almost the most pious surrounding in the world, but on the other hand, plastic wrappers and garbage polluted this area. As popular as the place was, there wasn’t a single dustbin on-site or even a sign that indicated people to not pollute the river.
Beer bottles and cigarette wrappers float on the banks of the river and almost make it difficult to enjoy their beauty. When asked about the dirty status of the rivers, those responsible for protecting the area responded with wrath. They suggested it was not a big deal because the polluted elements would either be burnt or washed away by the river anyway.
Even though my love for nature was still the same, my desire to go to that place diminished. Once, the place felt calming and pure, and now it felt disrespected and misused. I was so enraged by the state of the river banks that I made it a point to bring back as much trash as I could whenever I went there to dispose of it properly.
Plastic pollution is the main reason for the dire condition of the Seti-Madi River. Often these acts of polluting seem trivial, but they harm the rivers’ aquatic freshwater ecosystem. Plastics also block the flow of rivers and may result in bank erosion.
Fishes and many aquatic living beings ingest plastic regularly, often leading to their death. Also, the plastics carried by rivers are deposited in the banks of many other places and carried to the ocean, harming the marine ecosystem. The Bay of Bengal can be a prime example of suffering from a disrupted ecosystem because of the plastics carried by Nepali rivers.
Plastics take years to degrade, but minimizing their use and proper disposal can be a relatively easy task. So, if we desire to keep the aesthetic of our rivers and fellow living beings, let us forgo plastic. Even if we use it, let us always use dust bins.
Muskan Acharya is an undergraduate forestry student at Kathmandu Forestry College. She is passionate about environmental conservation and the protection of wildlife. In addition, she is also a raging feminist and loves reading books and writing.