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Earth Day: End Plastic Pollution

April 22, 2018

Earth Day: End Plastic Pollution

Earth Day, I’m sure you’ve heard of it and either know exactly what it stands for or not. As it’s an important day, I wanted to write a post about it to explain how Earth Day started, what it is exactly and what the goal of this day is.

"From poisoning and injuring ocean life to the presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival."

During the 1960s, a rapidly growing increase in environmental damage was noticeable, especially after an oil spill from an offshore platform that spread more than 3 million gallons of oil along the Southern California coast and onto its beaches in 1969. This, while being inspired by the student anti-war movement, led to the first Earth Day in the USA on April 22, 1970. Millions of people hit the streets to protest against the negative impacts of the industrial development. It was a huge wake-up call for Congress and then-President Richard Nixon and within a couple months of the first Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created. The environmental movement also led to the creation of the Endangered Species, Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.
In 1990, Earth Day went global, which helped putting even more focus on the environmental issues and gave a giant boost to recycling efforts worldwide.

Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution - Sololu

Every year on April 22, International Mother Earth Day is celebrated by more than 1 billion people in over 190 countries. Worldwide, lots of different events are organized to promote and show support for environmental protection. People march, plant trees, sign petitions, clean up their towns, etc. Everything is done in an effort to demonstrate that positive changes need to be made to decrease the negative impacts on our environment, animals, ourselves and our future generations.

Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution - Sololu

This year’s focus of the Earth Day Network, the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide, is to prepare the world to end plastic pollution. Their goals include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel based materials, promoting 100% recycling of plastics and changing human behavior regarding plastics. They are educating millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water and wildlife, and about the increasing amount of evidence that decomposing plastics are creating serious global problems. From poisoning and injuring ocean life to the presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival.
Plastic takes hundreds of years to break up and while some of it makes it to landfills and recycling centers, the majority ends up in our oceans due to people dumping garbage into our waterways, inefficient waste infrastructure, and littering. Here are some facts and reasons why to take action and reduce the usage of plastic:

  • A report done by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that at least 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. That’s the equivalent of dumping one garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute. If no changes are being made, this will increase to two garbage trucks a minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050! They found that there are over 150 million tons of plastic in the oceans today. That is about 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish. If nothing changes, we will see plastic outweighing fish in the ocean by 2050.
  • About 5% of total used petroleum in the USA goes towards plastic production. That’s equivalent to 330 million barrels of oil per year!
  • On average, Americans use 1.6 plastic drinking straws every day, totaling to 500 million per day. That’s enough to fill up 125 school buses a day, or 46,400 school buses a year! Drinking straws may not seem like a lot of plastic, but they add up quickly. Instead of using plastic straws at restaurants and cafes, you can bring your own reusable straw or simply go straw free.
  • According to the 5 Gyres Institute, 12 minutes is the average “working life” of a plastic bag before it is thrown away. Globally, one million plastic bags are used per minute and only 1% of them are recycled. Most of them make their way into our oceans where they can take up to 20 years to decompose.
  • About two-thirds of the world’s breathable oxygen comes from the ocean or, more specifically, from tiny marine plants, called phytoplankton, floating on the ocean’s surface. Like all plants, phytoplankton photosynthesize, converting carbon dioxide to valuable energy and oxygen. As the world’s largest producer of breathable oxygen, phytoplankton are one of, if not the most, important organisms on Earth. However, they are being threatened by rising sea temperatures. Scientists have estimated that a 6 °C increase in ocean temperatures could disrupt phytoplankton photosynthesis, thereby leading to a global shortage of oxygen.

Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution - Sololu

The Earth Day Network has built a multi-year campaign to end plastic pollution, which includes leading a movement to support the adoption of a global framework to regulate plastic pollution, educating and preparing citizens across the globe to demand that governments and corporations control and clean up plastic pollution, educating people worldwide to take personal responsibility for plastic pollution by choosing to reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics, and promoting local government regulatory and other efforts to tackle plastic pollution. The Earth Day Network will use the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2020 as a motivation for global action.

Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution - Sololu

Ever since I got to know about the negative impacts of the clothing industry, I’ve been focused on living a more sustainable lifestyle. Currently I am based in Mexico (where I live approximately five months out of the year) and while it’s amazing to be living 30 steps from the beach, nothing gets me more frustrated than seeing plastics along the beach when I’m out for my daily run or swimming. Along with a group of other expats and locals, I organize beach clean-ups every now and then, and to celebrate Earth Day, we’ve organized a beach clean-up starting at 8 am today. I'm sure many plastics will be collected and we’ll avoid that these plastics make their way back into the ocean where ocean life gets entangled in them or mistake them for food. Follow @shopsololu on Instagram to see what I, along with the others, will end up collecting today.

Let’s take care of our planet and make more sustainable choices. Together we can make a difference!

Happy Earth Day!



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