Today is World Environment Day (WED). It is celebrated on the fourth day of June. Every year there is a theme. This year’s theme is “Beating Plastic Pollution.”
Did you know about 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into our oceans every year? This not only harms the wildlife, but it can also potentially harm our own health.
Let’s explore World Environment Day.
What Is WED?
World Environment Day was first held in 1974 and is celebrated every fourth of June. It is the United Nations way of encouraging awareness of environmental issues.
There are over 143 countries involved, all working towards making changes, so our Earth is a better place.
World Environment Day 2018 – The Trouble With Plastic
This year’s theme deals with plastic.
Did you know most plastics do not biodegrade? Instead, they slowly break down into smaller fragments known as microplastics. When this happens, it becomes even more difficult to remove it from the ocean.
Microplastics, if ingested by fish, can enter our food chain. They have been found in commercial table salt. Studies also show that 90 percent of bottled water and 83 percent of tap water contain plastic particles.
Unfortunately, little is known about the impacts of microplastics on human health.
Studies have also shown that plastic bags and containers made of expanded polystyrene foam (styrofoam) can take up to thousands of years to decompose. This leads to the contamination of the soil and water.
Global plastic production is rising rapidly. By 2030 the world may produce 619 million tonnes of plastic every year!
Something needs to change!
What’s Being Done?
Over the past 20 years, entrepreneurs, companies, and researchers have created a vast variety of biodegradable and/or compostable plastic substitutes.
A brewery in the United States has created edible six-pack rings made from barley and wheat from the brewing process. The rings are 100 percent biodegradable and can safely be eaten by animals.
Cambridge University is using the fully compostable Vegware, and there’s the edible cutlery that emerged last year in India. It’s made of sorghum blended with rice and wheat and comes in three flavors – plain, sweet or savory.
In Egypt, scientists are working on a polymer derived from the organic compound chitin (found in the shells of shrimp, crabs, and lobsters), to be made into grocery bags.
In Japan, scientists have recently discovered plastic-eating bugs. The greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) can devour polyethylene.
What Can You Do?
We all have to work together to make a change. What can you do to reduce the use of plastic?
- Stop drinking bottled water; use a reusable bottle instead
- Recycle all cans, bottles, and plastic products
- Use tote bags instead of plastic bags for grocery items
- Choose cardboard over plastic
- Don’t use disposable straws and cutlery
- NEVER toss garbage into the environment. Use proper containers
The most important way you can help is by spreading the word about what you’ve learned here today. Together, we can save the environment from further damage.
If you can’t reuse it, refuse it!
Happy World Environment Day