A hackathon was held at the National Incubation Centre (NIC) on Thursday evening to spread awareness about curbing the use of plastic, a substance notorious for its hazards to the environment but at the same time one of the widely used materials in the world.
Titled ‘The Do Day: Planet or Plastic’, the event was organised by Hack Embassy. Over 100 participants, mostly students, had registered for the programme who were required to come up with ideas to address the problem of rising plastic consumption. The event also featured a panel discussion in which the participants were required to brainstorm about sustainable and feasible alternatives to plastic consumption.
The panel comprised Meesum Kazmi from the World Wide Fund for Nature, Tahir Nadeem from a firm Business Dynamics, Sasha from Green Gang Pakistan, Hira Wajahat from Stimulus and Samar Hasan from a social enterprise Epiphany.
Kazmi felt that results of campaign against plastic use were disappointing as plastic consumption did not decrease. However, the speaker insisted on not losing hope. The fight must go on, she said.
Sasha, on the other hand, appeared more optimistic as she shared her own zero-waste lifestyle with the audience which included her approaches to quit the use of non-reusable plastic.
“I feel it is difficult but not impossible to quit plastic. I admit it is difficult but we just need to start making conscious choices like refusing to use plastic bags or carry our own cups or bottles to avoid using styrofoam ones,” she said, adding that her young daughter was also following her and her school peers were also trying to implement many of her ways in their lives. “I keep approaching outlets asking about their product guidelines and I also offer alternative solutions to them to keep the work going,” she explained.
Hira was of the view that solutions to curb the use of plastic must involve people on the ground, especially communities who would get affected.
Samar said people working in different pockets should come together to give their input. “We also need to focus on the younger generation by teaching them how to adopt a different lifestyle because we need to be worried about the kind of planet we’re leaving for them.”
Kazmi pointed out that one way through which plastic consumption could be reduced was to find an alternative substance which was also cheap as both the utility and cost factors had made plastic industry one of the biggest industries.
The participants were divided into multiple teams that came up with different ideas to reuse plastic or reduce its use. One of the participants, Raza Rasui, was keen on the idea of plastic pyrolysis which could help convert plastic into crude oil. Another one, Huzaifa Yaseen, believed in replacing cutlery made of plastic with that made of some edible substance.
Maheen Aziz, another participant, came up with the idea of creating a community where people may be able to find answers to solutions regarding environment friendly lifestyle. “I saw that one person had a steel straw [instead of a plastic one] and I got [interested]. Similarly, there would be many people who want to shift to such a lifestyle but are clueless so we can connect them to [those who have answers to their problems].”
Alyas, who had spent a considerable time in Kenya, said all those who thought banning plastic was impossible should learn from a country like Kenya.
“Plastic shopping bags are banned in Kenya and anyone who uses them is fined and put behind the bars. They too didn’t do it suddenly, rather, they slowly shifted the people towards cloth and paper bags.”
Another team of participants, Taufeeq Ahmed, Ahmed Aamir Khan, Mobin Safdar and Jibran Ali, wanted to start a van service which would collect plastic and other recyclable goods from homes.
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