Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, Sri Sri appeal to people to cut consumption of single-use plastic

India was the global host of 2018 World Environment Day celebrations, the largest UN-led celebration on environment. The theme for this edition was 'Beat Plastic Pollution'.

Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, Sri Sri appeal to people to cut consumption of single-use plastic
Representational image (People dump plastic bottles in a plastic recycling machine, installed at the Bengaluru City Railway Station on June 5, 2018)

New Delhi: The drive against the use of plastic is turning into a movement in India with politicians and spiritual leaders urging people to make the world a better place to live in. On World Environment Day (June 05), Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan and Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar asked people to take a pledge to give up the use of single-use plastic for the rest of their lives.

"We want to ensure that by 2022 the whole country is single-use plastic free… last 2-3 months we have been working not only on plastics, but in totality about environment protection and environmental conservation," Harsh Vardhan said at an event hosted by AOL on Tuesday. "World Environment Day is not a symbolic occasion for us. It is beginning of our war against plastic pollution," he added.

Sri Sri said, "Great things are done by not one person, but by many people getting inspired and taking the initiative to do it… Pollution is just not just man-made, it’s made by the mind. When you become aware of the dangers of some of the things that you use, like plastic, you immediately start cutting down those things… so all should take a vow to cut down the use of plastic by less than half…"

Mahesh Sharma, MoS Environment, was also present on the occasion. He said, "Being friendly with mother nature has been our tradition for decades and centuries… we are the only country who worship our rivers… we worship plants, we worship animals… that is the tradition of our country… the growing civilization, the growing urbanisation has brought these devils to us… we are committed to give back to the society, to humanity… man is only recognised by what he gives back to the society… what we’ll be leaving for the next generation is important…"

On his part, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) executive director Erik Solheim pointed out that he had witnessed tremendous energy of individuals and the government towards environment protection. He said that India should move faster towards public transport system and electric mobility to tackle the problem of air pollution.