How do we solve a problem like plastic and petroleoum?
I don't believe there is a solution except to stop using them completely. Which means we would have to find alternatives to these supported by tremendous political will power (in our country, this is nothing short of a miracle to ask for) to implement the alternatives... rather than bow down to pressures from businesses with vested interests.
Until then, a few things I try to do (as meagre as it might be… I am a firm believer in every drop counts):
(a) carry cloth or paper bags & minimize on the use of plastic bags (a bit obvious, that)
(b) if i do get bottles & containers in plastic that are reusable, I try to use them as much as possible - as storage, as holders of miscellaneous stuff, as food containers to give away.
(c) If there is plastic that I cannot reuse, I give it away at the scrap dealer (or kabadiwala) even if I have to give it away free, because they are some of the most resourceful people. Yes, believe it or not, the scrap chain is so systematic that they process anything that can be put to some use.
(d) Walk short distances or as much as I can instead of hopping into a cab or an autorickshaw (on a good day, I count it as part of my weight-loss program). Or use the public transport (wherever it's possible) - buses, trains/metro, when I have the time (I try and make a little extra time).
(f) Volunteer, donate or be an online activist with organizations that can work harder for the environment than I can.
I do have my 'lazy' days when the little voice in my head says, "Take the cab, it's more comfortable, less noisy" and I even succumb to it… but hey, I am no saint :). I know that there's much, much more that I can do but it's a start and soon I hope to get to the 'more'.
Some places you can check out for more info:
A few interesting articles to browse through: