June 5th is the United Nations World Environment Day. A day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Since its beginning in 1974 it has grown to be celebrated in over 100 countries and provides a platform for action, for normal, everyday people to do something to help protect and take care of the planet.
Thailand is a huge consumer of single use plastics but we are not alone. Around the world 1 MILLION single use plastic water bottles are bought EVERY MINUTE and 500 Billion plastic bags are used annually around the globe.
Images as seen on David Attenboroughs ground breaking BBC series Blue Planet 2 and Wildlife Photographer Justin Hofman’s heart breaking image of a tiny seahorse clinging onto a cotton bud floating in the ocean, are inspiring people to take action to reduce the plastic problem. As individual consumers, educators, communities and workplaces, we can take small steps to make our own big impacts to reduce the global plastic plague.
World Environment Day 2018 – #Beating Plastic Pollution
How can you participate with your class?
What is the Environment?
The environment is our surroundings. It can be the living and non-living things around us. It’s our basic life support system, which provides the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the land in which we live. It’s a combination of natural and human made phenomena.
Why do we need the Environment?
Human beings have possibly the greatest environmental impact of any organism on Earth. A good environment is a key indicator of the health of an ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems provide us with many ‘Ecosystem Services’ they clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. They provide raw materials for building and resources such as medicines. The environment in which we live provides natural services for humans and all other species that are essential to our health, quality of life and survival.
What is the problem? Single use plastics
) is considered the first man-made plastic and was patented by Alexander Parkes
, in Birmingham
, England in 1856. Since then plastic has developed into a common household item found everywhere from food packaging to toys. As modern lifestyles have become busier the rise of ‘single use’ plastics such as bottles and plastics bags has greatly increased as we have amplified our desire for more ‘convenience’ items.
Globally, recycling has increased over the years and global market revenue from recycling materials was predicted to increase from $247.48 billion to $265.65 billion in 2017 (GlobalWaste Recycling Market Outlook 2017). But many single use plastics never make it as far as the recycling bin and with plastics taking anywhere from 400- 1000 years or more to biodegrade, it’s what happens after we use these products that is the concern.
“Nearly one third of the plastic packaging we use escapes collection systems, which means that it ends up clogging our city streets and polluting our natural environment. Every year, up to 13 million tons of plastic leaks into our oceans, where it smothers coral reefs and threatens vulnerable marine wildlife. The plastic that ends up in the oceans can circle the Earth four times in a single year, and it can persist for up to 1,000 years before it fully disintegrates.
Plastic also makes its way into our water supply – and thus into our bodies. What harm does that cause? Scientists still aren’t sure, but plastics contain a number of chemicals, many of which are toxic or disrupt hormones. Plastics can also serve as a magnet for other pollutants, including dioxins, metals and pesticides.” UN World Environment Day SO
How can we resolve the problem?
A key solution is to change the attitude and awareness that people have and how they behave towards the environment. Firstly, people need the knowledge and information about how to help and why they should care! We could not live without the “ecosystem services” the environment provides us, they are what we call our natural capital.
So Educate yourself and others and get involved!
You can help as an individual, school, company or community and join in world environment day activities in over 100 countries!
Reduce and Reuse
Carrying a reusable cup to buy your coffee, or a water bottle that you can refill or using a fabric bag to carry your shopping home, or simply saying no to a plastic straw can drastically reduce the amount of single use plastic you use on a daily basis.
Recycle as much as you can! Plastic bottles can be recycled and made into everything from road surfaces and furniture to carpets and clothing. Some plastic bottles can even be recycled into new recycling bins!
If something is broken, try to fix it rather than throwing it out to buy a new one. It takes less energy to repair something than it does to create a new one.
Refuse plastic cutlery or food products that come in unnecessary plastic packaging and encourage suppliers to provide a more sustainable option.
The plastic problem isn’t going to be solved overnight, but with scientists developing fully biodegradable plant based alternatives to plastics as I type and with individuals saying “No” to single use plastics and engaging with initiatives such as World Environment Day, we are certainly moving towards a less plastic clogged future.