Every June 5th, we join the rest of the world to celebrate World Environment Day (WED). WED is the UN’s most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Hosted by India, the theme this year is “Beat Plastic Pollution”.
Plastic is the most toxic, harmful and abundant of our waste products. Its use has proved to be detrimental to the environment, creating negative impacts such as pollution, and has also created problems for wildlife and their habitats as well as for people and their livestock.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that an individual creates an average of four pounds of trash every day. Every day! This has serious ramifications for people, animals and the environment. As rubbish breaks down in landfills, it leaks pollutants into the ground and water around it, and also releases substances like methane into the air, which contribute to global warming. It gets into the water we drink and food that we eat. Digest that! This is nothing short of a global emergency, affecting every aspects of our lives and is something that we ALL need to take action on.
We applaud the Kenyan government for taking serious steps to crack down on plastics by banning plastic bags in the fight to help beat plastic pollution. Already within a few months of the passing of this legislation we have seen a big difference in the levels of pollution on the streets. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t just start and stop at plastic bags. We encounter plastic everywhere in our daily lives, from storage containers to shampoo bottles and toys – it’s everywhere!
Unfortunately, plastic is not bio-degradable, and it remains in the environment for years or decades. In fact, the National Geographic reported that as of 2015 there were about 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic floating in our oceans. If no further actions are taken, it is estimated that the oceans will have approximately 250 million metric tons of plastic in them by 2025.
Here are some further shocking plastic pollution facts highlighted by the UN:
- Every year the world uses up to 5 trillion plastic bags
- Each year, at least 13 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans, the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute.
- In the last decade, we produced more plastic than in the whole last century
- 50 percent of the plastic we use is single-use or disposable
- We buy 1 million plastic bottles every minute
- Plastic makes up 10% of all of the waste we generate
We still have a long way to go to beat plastic pollution and eliminate plastic in all forms, and to find sustainable alternatives to this material that features in so many aspects of our daily lives.
Change doesn’t happen overnight but it does start with everyone of us. Let’s commit to being more mindful and conscious about our everyday choices. Say no to single-use plastics and strive to beat plastic pollution. We only have one Earth – let’s do our bit to protect it!