Youth Lead the Charge for a Plastic-Free Future

In a resounding call for action against plastic pollution, students from Royal Thimphu College (RTC) have stepped up their advocacy efforts, urging the government to reinforce the ban on single-use plastics and implement sustainable alternatives. With the backdrop of World Environment Day, their initiative, titled “Plastic Free Bhutan: Reinforce the Ban, Embracing Change,” has gained momentum, marking a significant stride towards a greener future.

Presenting a petition to the prime minister and the government, these passionate advocates, numbering around 23, emphasized the urgent need for stricter enforcement of existing regulations. Their plea resonates deeply in a world grappling with the escalating environmental challenges posed by plastic waste.

The statistics paint a stark reality. Bhutan produces a staggering 172.16 metric tonnes of solid waste daily, with Thimphu and Phuentsholing emerging as hotspots for plastic consumption and waste generation. Despite commendable efforts by the government, including the Zero Waste Bhutan App to monitor waste-related offenses, the adverse impacts of plastic waste persist.

Priya Rai, one of the student advocates from RTC, underscored the importance of collaborative action in combating plastic pollution. “While policies exist on paper, implementation requires a collective effort,” she remarked. Her sentiments echo a growing consensus among environmentally conscious citizens who recognize the imperative of individual and institutional commitment.

The student-led initiative extends beyond mere petitioning. RTC has forged partnerships with the college management, securing commitments to reduce PET bottles and single-use plastics at all college events. Embracing sustainable practices, the college pledges to promote alternatives like reusable water bottles and prioritize green procurement policies.

Such initiatives serve as catalysts for broader societal change. Dasho Paljor J Dorji, an environmentalist, emphasized the need for sustainable plastic management practices rather than outright bans. He advocates for legislative policies that incentivize eco-friendly alternatives and foster responsible consumption habits.

Echoing these sentiments, Pema Drukpa, Chairperson of NA’s environment and climate change committee, highlighted the multifaceted challenges in waste management. Despite historical efforts to curb plastic usage, issues like the high cost of eco-alternatives and inadequate waste disposal infrastructure persist.

The advocacy program culminated in a vibrant showcase of creativity, with students presenting short films on waste management and an eco-waste fashion show. Preceding these events, a marathon and social media campaigns aimed to raise awareness and encourage sustainable lifestyle choices.

At its core, this grassroots movement embodies the spirit of Bhutan’s commitment to environmental conservation. With unwavering determination, Bhutan’s youth are driving the narrative towards a plastic-free future, setting a shining example for the world to follow.

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