*This is a guest post by Upekshi C. Perera, the Founder/CEO of Green Choice Lanka.
Green Choice Lanka was launched on the 1st of September as an Environmental Advocacy Organisation, with the intention of unifying and protecting our resplendent little Isle, with all of Sri Lanka, for Sri Lanka. Whilst we are all aware of the massive waste issue which has significantly polluted and impacted our environment, to this date it is almost a zero contribution towards planning a mitigation process.
Our main focus in Green Choice is developing strategic ways to reduce the usage of plastic and polythene by spreading awareness to the general public about the toxicity of them. Helping them understand that and simplifying the lifestyle changes can make a massive difference resulting in ecological restoration, focusing on educating the youth, for they are our future.
Engage in cleanups is to socially portray the importance of keeping the community clean and to set an example to the community to pitch in & pick up, approaching certain manufacturing companies to restrict their packing and offering alternative eco-conscious and compostable products to reduce the carbon footprint such as Areca leaf (kolapath) plates, bamboo toothbrushes, bamboo & paper straws, reusable bags, bottles, mugs, wooden cutlery and looking at expanding the product portfolio to have alternative eco-conscious products to help customers in their everyday lifestyles.
Plastic is a part of our everyday life and cannot be eliminated overnight, however, it is important to understand, as a result of our actions and behavior, human negligence is contributing towards air, land and water pollution, resulting in global warming and climate change. In simple words, it’s causing for Sri Lanka’s biodiversity, which is one of the richest natural bio-diversities in the world to fade away.
This, in turn, is causing health issues and we wonder what the root cause is! We live in a rat race in our convenient urban lifestyles and oblivious to the repercussions of our negligence. It’s easy to blame different authorities for certain outcomes, however, what we fail to remember is how blessed we are to be born as Sri Lankans and why we need to focus on being a part of the change towards creating a zero waste Sri Lanka.
As an ardent traveler, taking any opportunity to spend time in nature, whether it be a camp trip or a simple walk in the night, ask yourself this one question. If we don’t protect mother Lanka, who will? We are driving nature and wildlife to extinction. Sri Lanka is a little bit of everything, as Sir. Author C. Clarke quoted. We have the world’s largest blue whale, which has ever lived, the highest density of leopards in the world, world heritage citadels, mythical jungles, magical waterfalls, mighty mountains, ancient cities, historical harbor and forts to list. Sri Lanka is pure magic, isn’t it? Do you want your next whale and dolphin excursion to be in an ocean full of plastic? Do you want to continue to complain about the humidity or plant a tree instead and support reforestation?
By default, every item purchased today is connected with a sili sili bag, every drink we purchase comes in a formation of a plastic bottle or is attached with a plastic straw, parties, and events galore with plastic plates, cups and cutlery, water is bought over a supermarket counter in a plastic bottle. Imagine if we made one change and carried a reusable bag for our shopping, owned a reusable bottle to carry around or used alternative eco-conscious, compostable products. It is alarming that only a limited percentage is being recycled, and the majority of it finds its way from us to landfills to canals, which flows to our ocean, disrupting marine ecosystems, trapping animals which can’t distinguish the difference between food and plastic and is consumed.
The same marine environment which provides food resources and livelihoods for millions of Sri Lankans has affected the ocean functionality. Our downfall is that instead of living and exploring the beauty of Sri Lanka, we exploit it. To protect your family, you must learn to protect and conserve nature. To respect nature, for she respects you back.
This vicious cycle can be changed. The plastic you purchase will roam for decades, if not centuries and the extinction of humanity.
This is Our Home.Our Love.Our Priority and I believe with all my heart that we can easily tackle it one day at a time, one disposable plastic item at a time and make an effort to Refuse.Reduce.Reuse.Recycle.REPEAT!
Here’s to our mother Lanka, our mother Earth with hope, love, and faith, as together we achieve more.
15th September – International Coastal Cleanup
As the official World Cleanup Day, which falls on the 15th of September, The Marine Protection Environment Authority (MEPA), Sri Lanka in partnership with Green Choice Lanka under the Ocean Conservancy, USA initiative organized the International Coastal Cleanup Day and National Marine Conservation Week. The responsible location for Green Choice was the Mount-Lavinia Beach, where we invited voluntary groups and individuals to be a part of this global project.
Voluntary groups such as Plastic Free Sri Lanka, The Sri Lanka Sub Aqua Club, Ocean Intact, Z Club Colombo too played a key role through their participation in numbers, which added to the total count of over 200 people with the voluntary support of the Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Conservation Department.
Whilst the event opened proceedings with our salutation to our National Anthem, volunteers were divided into different groups with garbage bags, gloves and relevant forms to fill in the particular items collected. The collected items were segregated in garbage bags under plastic, polyethylene, rubber, bottles, so on and so forth. They were later collected necessary recycling, however, we await the results of the garbage collected in a matter of two hours of which the photographs provide evidence of the amount of garbage.