Plastic pollution is one of the reasons for climate change. Plastic is a versatile, highly durable and low-cost product that we use in our daily lives. A portion of carelessly dumped plastic can produce six portions of carbon dioxide. Whereas, plastic that is dumped in dustbins can be recycled up to 10 times, leading to the elimination of landfill waste and protection of the seas and oceans.
Sumon Chowdhury is the president and founder of Plastic Initiative Network, which started in 2018. The organisation aims to ultimately build a plastic-free nation. As of now, they are working to ensure proper recycling and reusing of plastic.
Sumon is a 23-year-old fresh graduate from National University of Bangladesh, who loves to travel. “While travelling, we get to see the use and wastage of plastic the most. This is why it is important to create awareness in tourist spots, through campaigns, stickers and posters,” he says. Sumon was a volunteer for the British Council in Active Citizen Youth Leadership Training, JAAGO Foundation, WAVE Foundations, and VSO Bangladesh.
Single-use plastics are largely responsible for accelerating climate change. However, plastic contributes to greenhouse emissions at every stage of its lifecycle. Plastic Initiative Network successfully worked in alliance with many organisations to bring impactful changes through different programmes. They visited around 30 schools, few colleges and three universities, including The University of Dhaka (DU) and Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), where they had face-to-face sessions with the students. “Initially, we created awareness about plastic pollution and had a signature campaign, where we encouraged them to throw plastic wastes in bins,” explains Sumon.
Plastic Initiative Network also ran effective sticker campaigns in Darjeeling, India. Their human chains and rallies in Natore, Cox’s Bazar and Khulna were successful as well. They have started to campaign through social media and radio shows, garnering largely positive responses.
“Jute is an excellent, environmentally-friendly replacement for plastic,” asserts Sumon. “We are planning to find alternate ways and working on some modules to establish replacements for plastic in ways that will not economically affect the plastics industry.”
Plastic Initiative Network is actively working in seven districts with 350 volunteers. They aim to establish their associations globally in the future.