World Environment Day is 5 June. This year, the hosts are India and the global celebrations are aimed at beating plastic pollution. India is home to fourteen of the most plastic polluted cities.
Globally, the world uses up to 5 trillion plastic bags, of which half are single use or disposable. Campaigns and documentaries by Sky with Ocean Rescue and the BBC with Blue Planet II make it evident that millions of tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans. It is destroying marine life, contaminating beaches and eco-systems, and entering our bodies through the water we drink and the food we eat.
When confronted by a challenge of the magnitude of plastics, there’s a natural inclination to think that we are powerless to prevent the problem, but we are not. Each of us makes a choice every second of every day about what we do or choose not to do. Making plastics our individual problem is a positive mindset. It not only makes us act on the problem, but also care more deeply about it. And when we care, as children know only too well from the advice of their parents, we share… we talk, we encourage others, we lobby, we push for change.
A World Environment Day focused on plastics is a spearhead to drive debate, to showcase innovation and above all, to encourage collaboration. Just as an individual voice is stronger as a collective, so too are organisations who elect to work together. No single organisation can solve the problem. There are plenty of good examples where governments, NGOs, suppliers and brands are working together to get rid of unnecessary plastic. We need more collaboration, more innovation, more ways of taking the problem away. For example,closer to home (literally) we do not have recycling consistency across local authorities. We need to ensure that the same materials are recyclable no matter where you recycle them in the UK.
If there’s a big ask to be made on 5 June, it is that we stop using single-use plastics. Choose which type you can give up, stop using it and encourage others to do the same. If you are looking for motivation, look no further than Versova Beach, the sight of a pilot whale killed by plastic bags and the plastic detritus in your own neighbourhood. We need to break our addiction to single use plastics. World Environment Day is a good day to break a bad habit.
Further reading more on plastic pollution: Official UK data routinely overestimates plastic packaging waste recycling, report claims
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