World Environment Day: A plastic-wrapped world is choking life in the sea

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A message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi about nurturing nature. A pledge by top companies to fight plastic pollution. A Twitter post by the United Nations asking people to take the #BeatPlasticPollution challenge. And a flurry of messages on social media sites.  

The build-up to 2018's World Environment Day (June 5) saw the outpouring of concerns in a world reeling due to its toxic air, increasing temperatures and a choking plastic menace. 

News reports in the past week have painted a grim picture of environmental degradation with plastic pollution being a real pain point.  

The death of a male whale that swallowed more than 80 plastic bags weighing up to 8 kg in southern Thailand highlighted the dangers marine life was facing.  

At least 300 marine animals, including pilot whales, sea turtles, and dolphins, perish each year in Thai waters after ingesting plastic, reported news agency AFP. 

Then there were the photographs of a Vietnamese mangrove draped with polythene and underwater trash near Indonesian islands.

"About eight million tonnes of plastic waste are dumped into the world's oceans every year, the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic being tipped into the sea every minute of every day," AFP reported in a separate story. 

It said more than half of that came from five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, according to a 2015 Ocean Conservancy report.

Back home, politicians, including PM Modi, tweeted messages raising awareness about the environment and asked people to help build a "greener tomorrow".

A report on the Hindustan Times website said a fisherman in Kerala's Kollam brought back with him bags full of garbage from the sea along with glowing sardines and mackerels. In another report, it said a clean-up of 12 hill states left experts alarmed at the level of pollution in the country's Himalayan ecosystem. 

To fight plastic, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal announced the "Indian Railways has started using fully biodegradable packages in four Shatabadi and four Rajadhani trains from Delhi, contributing towards a greener planet". 

The message is clear: a collective step against plastic pollution is the need of the hour. Hopefully, the movement will start this World Environment Day.    

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