World Environment Day (WED) is an initiative from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It was first started in the 1970s, to raise global awareness about environmental challenges, and encourage people around the world to take action.
Every year, World Environment Day focuses on a key environmental issue. The theme for this year (5 June 2018) is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.
The Problem with Plastic
Plastic is a very strong, durable substance that doesn’t degrade (break down) easily. One plastic bottle can last for 450 years, slowly degrading into smaller and smaller pieces which leach into the soil and the water. These pieces end up microscopically small, but they never truly ‘disappear’.
Plastic pollution is a huge problem in the marine ecosystem. Litter is left on the beach, or washed through the drains of cities and towns to end up in the ocean. This litter, especially the plastic kind, can harm marine animals, fish and birds that mistake it for food, or become entangled in it. And of course, once ingested plastic works its way into the food chain via ocean fish, it finds its way into our restaurants and kitchens. Yuck!
Fast Facts on Plastic Pollution
Unfortunately, the human race has become very reliant on the convenience of single-use plastic products – like shopping bags, drinking straws, and water bottles. This has brought us to the point where:
- 500-billion plastic bags are used worldwide every year.
- At least 8-million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans every year.
- 1-million plastic bottles are purchased worldwide every minute.
- Plastic makes up 10% of all of the waste we generate.
- 50% of this plastic is ‘disposable’, designed to be used only once.
Scary stuff! No wonder more and more people are turning to reusable alternatives, like stainless steel straws and bottles, or canvas shopping bags.
Help to #BeatPlasticPollution this World Environment Day
This year, UNEP is calling on individuals and companies to organise cleanups in their communities. Get involved with World Environment Day celebrations for 2018, and help to rid the world of plastic pollution. Here’s what you can do:
- Join the cleanups planned in your city, country and workplace.
- Spread the word about WED and local events via social media. Use the hashtags #WorldEnvironmentDay and #BeatPlasticPollution.
- Arrange your own WED cleanup or presentation for your neighbourhood, community, school or workplace.
- Register your event at: http://www.worldenvironmentday.global/en/register-event.
- Invest in some plastic-free, reusable products for your family to use instead of disposable plastics.
World Environment Day gives us all a chance to get involved and make a difference. Here’s to a year with less plastic and less pollution!
World environment day. Retrieved from: http://worldenvironmentday.global/
Drive against plastic pollution to gain momentum from India – the global host of World Environment Day 2018. Retrieved from: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/pollution/drive-against-plastic-pollution-to-gain-momentum-from-india-the-global-host-of-world-environment-day-2018/articleshow/62994154.cms
World Environment Day: 5 June 20187. Retrieved from: http://www.greeningtheblue.org/event/world-environment-day