I have been writing about plastic pollution a lot on my blog recently, such as reducing plastic consumption. As it is something I am passionate about and have been my whole life. I became aware of environmental issues from a young age and have always strived to do my best for the planet. Seeing people throw their trash on the ground and not care about what happens afterwards pushes me even more. I will always be that preachy hippy girl who hugs trees and picks up other people’s rubbish. This Earth Day (22nd April) eco-conscious people gather together to help spread awareness on plastic pollution. To provide you with ways to be more plastic free and just be an all round good resident on Earth.
You may be wondering what Earth Day is. Well the first Earth Day was celebrated back in 1970, back then, caring for the earth and taking it into account when making choices was still a new concept. Activists took it amongst themselves to protest for change because air pollution was getting worse and biodiversity was in decline as a result of the use of pesticides and other pollutants in agriculture. Following that, in the same year, the US created the Environmental Protection Agency. However, the UK passed the Environmental Act much later in 1995. Earth Day is now a major global event each year. More than 1 billion people around the world now take part in the day of ecological action and conservation. This year, the main focus is to make a global effort in reducing the usage of single-use plastics. The goals of the campaign are to end single-use plastics, promote alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, to promote 100% recycling of plastics. Also including corporate and government accountability and to change behaviour concerning plastics.
I attended my first beach clean here in Southsea yesterday (21st April). With the Surfers Against Sewage, whose focus is on ocean pollution and more specifically plastic pollution. 8 million pieces of plastic enters the oceans every day, injuring and poisoning our precious marine life and damaging the quality of our waters. You’ve probably seen the images on social media showing whales with their stomachs filled with plastics. Or the turtle with a straw stuck in its nose. It’s heart breaking to see how some of us take this planet for granted. I believe that each one of us can make slight improvements in our lifestyles to reduce the amount of single use plastics we use. Even if you simply stop using plastic straws and start using reusable ones. You stop adding to the 500 million straws that make their way into the sea every year.
Doing our litter picking, Saffron and I found a lot of different pollutants from plastic bottle tops, plastic bags to glass beer bottles and cans in and around the beach areas. It was warm and sunny the day before so many people flocked to the beach with their BBQs and drinks. All to enjoy the weather, however, just leave their rubbish behind. It is madness that this still happens. Bins are provided everywhere and even if there’s no bin around, it’s not that difficult to take your waste home to dispose off properly. However, the Big Beach Clean had a massive turnout with over 200 volunteers helping to clean up, I was happy to join in and help the community in the fight against plastic pollution.
It’s not all bad in the world of ending plastic pollution. The UK are now stepping up their game and implementing or proposing bans on some single use plastics. Earlier in the year the government introduced a tax levy on disposable coffee cups. Some companies have incentives to encourage recycling (Costa coffee offer a recycling point for their coffee cups) and promoting reusable cups (Waitrose to stop selling disposable cups). Now there are plans to implement a ban on plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers – it would be a great step and one that will help protect the environment. Theresa May, the PM said “Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda.”
It is estimated that 1 million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals die every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste. Therefore, we need to act now rather than later. The growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival.
What you can do
So now you may be wondering what you can do help. A simple thing to do if you haven’t stopped using them already, is to stop using the plastic bags in supermarkets. The ones that cost 5p to use, they are single use and usually always end up in the ocean confusing the turtles (they think it is a jellyfish). You can use a canvas/ cotton bag instead. You could donate some money to organisations that help the environment (Greenpeace, Surfers Against Sewage etc.) or volunteer your time by joining campaigns in your local area. If you want more ways to help the environment, take a look at my blog post 74 ways to go green.
Happy Earth Day!