evil of plastic usage is hardly unknown to this world which is, today, rapidly
progressing towards a technologically advanced lifestyle. However, a
progressive lifestyle not only requires the citizens to be efficiently educated
towards the problems of the world but also be sensitive enough to address them
act with responsibility.
disposable plastic in forms of polythene, polypropylene, polycarbonate,
polyvinyl chloride (PVC), etc. leave the earth in distress of issues.
Waterlogging, non-biodegradability of the plastic waste, death of terrestrial
and aquatic organisms are just some of the most common examples of the menace
produced plastic usage. Where there are numerous ways to stop this cruelty to
mother nature, let us focus on one of the easiest, cheapest, creative and most
sustainable ways of saving ourselves from the ghost plastic consumption – using leaf
plates in place of disposable plasticware.
food in disposable plates made from plant leaves has been a well-known cultural
practice in India for long. Especially used in pujas, such leaf
plates are used in various community feasts as well as regular street-side
delis over snacks and chaats. These leaf plates are biodegradable and
renewable – thus posing no threat to the natural resources of the earth. They
are also biologically advantageous for human use due to the presence of certain
nutritional and medicinal values that the human body can benefit from. The dried
leaves contain antibacterial and antifungal properties that when bleached into
our food from the plates, stand as barriers to environmental and food-borne
pathogens from adversely affecting our bodies.
only as dining plates, but the leaves of plants like banana (Musa sp.), sal (Shorea sp.), addaku (Phanera sp.), palash (Butea
sp.), palm (Areca catechu) etc. are also used to
make disposable cups and food wrappers. The use of polythene bags as carriers
for these purposed can thus be completely replaced by plant leaves. One of the
biggest advantages that these leaf plates bring to us, is the ease of washing
them. Where just a few splashes of water can do away with these plates, plastic
plates generally require chemical-based detergents which when drained into our
natural waterbodies, lead to eutrophication and mass killing of the aquatic
animals. Thus, disposable leaf plates also help in conserving the aquatic
carbon footprint left during the manufacture of these leaf plates is significantly
low. These are mainly manufactured by the tribal communities of India in their
native regions. They collect the dry leaves from forests and sanctuaries, wash
and design and sew them, and send them for sale in the markets. The entire
procedure involves an insignificant amount of fuel combustion or any major
pollution-causing agent. Moreover, this sustainable industry stands as a major
source of income in rural India. The industry is highly dependent on women for
designing and sewing, which is great for empowering tribal women with
independence and responsibility. The products from the leaf-based cutlery
industry are famous even in the foreign markets. More and more people from the
foreign lands of Europe and other south-east Asian countries are seen to
approach this indigenous market due to the utmost beauty of their products,
their cost-effectiveness, and the fact that they are so good for the
environment. Leaf plate stitching is a major livelihood activity for tribal
people in the Indian states of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra
Pradesh, and Telangana.
Utilizing the dry leaves also helps in waste management, which may have otherwise been dumped as more load on the earth and its people. Keeping in mind the extensive profits of the usage of leaf plates, both in environmental and economic aspects, it is needed that the Government addresses the cause with much more effect. A fair price should be fixed for these plates such that the industry thrives even further. The environment will profit from the increased use of leaf plates, and so will the poor people who are often deprived of fair payment for their efforts. So next time you think about a single-use plate, think leaf plates!