We at Applied Jainism are celebrating Mahavir Janma Kalyanak this April in a unique way through our nationwide campaign “I Pledge to Carry-A-Cloth-Bag”.
The aim of our campaign is reduction in the rampant use of plastic carry-bags by vegetable vendors, fruit sellers and grocery stores. We aim to spread the word in the society about the significantly harmful effects of plastics on our environment and to encourage them to abstain from plastics and shift to greener alternatives such as cloth bag.
Plastic carry bags were not produced until the early 1960s and were not in common use in grocery stores until 1982 reports National Geographic. Given the versatility of plastic in combination with its low cost has resulted in its prolific use and over-consumption in a span of 4 decades. Plastic bags that are discarded after just one use have become a major environment concern. Some 160,000 of them are used every second.
We are polluting our planet with five trillion plastic shopping bags a year. Rubbish is only part of the problem. Animals mistake plastic bags for food and millions of animals are killed by plastics every year, from birds to land-based animals to fish to other marine organisms. That aside, the manufacture of plastic bags uses cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and vinyl hydrochloride, and the toxic by-products pollute our air, water and soil and as recent research reveal small particles of plastic – that are still poisonous but that are easy to breathe in or ingest have started entering our food chain and our blood.
We have invited all the Pathshalas throughout the country to join us in this awareness campaign. While government and businesses have been pivotal in driving changes in the past, environment consciousness must be driven by our children, our future. Pathshalas which are already educating and inculcating social, moral and other values in our kids, will be the biggest medium for us to drive this change. Educating the children about how they apply core Jain principles in modern life, how they can help to protect all life forms and planet by living sustainably is aligned to what you are teaching at Pathshalas.
Besides Pathshalas, we are also encouraging businesses and other organizations to promote this cause, the campaign by spreading the awareness and distributing cloth bags to their employees, business associates, suppliers.
By consciously changing our lifestyle and using greener alternatives such as cloth bags, we as a collective community can lead and become a model for society.
Sangeetha is a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Financial Analyst. She is a trustee of Jain Academy Educational Research Centre and under the guidance of Dr. Bipin Doshi, she founded Applied Jainism in October 2020, a social platform to collaborate and discuss contemporary issues on sustainable co-existence where the principle of Jain philosophy can guide us.