Do just one thing this World Environment Day and make your world a better place
The UN has nominated 5 June to be World Environment Day each year. World Environment Day is a yearly celebration of the environment which originally began back in 1972. The theme of World Environment Day is chosen each year by its’ host country, with this year’s host India choosing Plastic Pollution as the pressing issue to tackle.
Did you know?
Nearly one third of the plastic packaging we use escapes collection systems, which means that it ends up clogging our city streets and polluting our natural environment. Every year, up to 13 million tons of plastic leak into our oceans, where it smothers coral reefs and threatens vulnerable marine wildlife. The plastic that ends up in the oceans can circle the Earth four times in a single year, and it can persist for up to 1,000 years before it fully disintegrates.
What can I do?
You would be surprised at the difference that you can make as an individual or a family. The biggest issue for plastic pollution being single use plastic items ranging from plastic shopping bags to plastic straws. The problem can sometimes feel overwhelming, but don’t let that stop you – Pick just one thing to do this World Environment Day. Small actions can make a big difference if everyone does something.
Here’s 5 ideas to get you thinking about what you can do on World Environment Day and every day to reduce the impact of plastic pollution.
1. Reduce your use
Quitting single use plastics altogether is probably not a practical goal for the majority of us but committing to reducing them is something we can all do.
Why not have a family meeting to talk with your family about what you can realistically do. First make a list together of all of the single use plastic items that you might use on a daily or weekly basis. Then as a family decide on how you are going to do away with one or two of those items.
Our list looked something like this (but much longer):
- Plastic shopping bags – we sometimes forget our reusable ones L
- Plastic water bottles from the shop
- Take-away coffee cups for grown up coffee and babycinos
- Coffee pods
- Plastic straws for drinks
- Plastic cutlery with take-away food
- Plastic inserts in things like packets of biscuits and other ready-made foods
- Take-away containers
It actually went on, but you get the idea. We wanted to aim big so we’ve agreed that if we forget our carry bags we will turn the car around and go home to get them. My husband and I have both bought reusable take-away cups and if we don’t have them then we only buy coffee to have at the café or go without until we get home. Finally, we keep water bottles in the car. We generally use the water over the weekend and then we refill the bottles on Sunday and put them back into the car ready for the week to come.
Those changes have made a huge difference to our plastic consumption. We are going to keep working on the reduction, but we are being realistic about what we can stick to for now as the changes require a pretty big shift in mind set and behaviour
2. Take notice
Choose an area such as your local park or do a walk around some local streets. Do a survey of the number and types of plastic items that you find. Make a tally sheet to keep a record.
Doing this exercise with your children will help to raise their awareness of the extent of plastic pollution in their local environment and will help to reinforce the reasons that you are trying to reduce plastic waste in your home.
You could also take notice in your own home. Again using a tally sheet, you could mark down items before they go into the bin. This could help you to decide how to prioritise the items that you want to reduce your use of.
3. Clean up
If you are really keen, you could go out as a family or even organise a clean-up hour with a group of friends. Grab some gloves and bags or buckets and head out to clean up a particular area. You don’t need to wait for a special day such as World Environment Day to do this. Just choose a date and time that suits you and head out to do some good in your part of the world.
If setting aside a specific time is too much then think about other things that could work for you. Lily and I have decided that when we walk home from school together on Fridays we will have a bag with us and pick up all of the rubbish that we see on the 500m walk between school and our home. Sadly, there is quite a bit in this very short stretch.
Cleaning local areas makes them so much nicer for everyone to use!
4. Get a petition going in your local area
If you can see an opportunity in your local area to reduce plastic consumption or pollution, why not petition your local council or member of State Parliament to support your idea. Examples include putting bubblers in popular walking spots to reduce the number of people buying water in plastic bottles or asking the council to place recycling bins at the local park.
Get a few people together and have a brainstorming session to see what you can come up with. You’ll be amazed at how many ideas you can generate in a short space of time.
5. Learn more
The more you know about an issue, the easier it is to explain the problem to others and to gather support. A great starting place to learn more about the very serious issues that we are facing as the result of plastic pollution is at the World Environment Day website
Remember, doing even one thing can make a huge difference. We’d love to hear what you choose to do, so please make a comment below, tag us on social media or send us an email – it would be great to hear from you!