Earth Day 2018
Every year on 22nd April, the world celebrates the Earth Day in order to raise awareness on the importance of our earth and the issues and problems it is faced with. The idea of celebrating the Day was propounded by 3 key people: former US Senator Gaylord Nelson, peace activist John McConnell, and Denis Hayes. Earth Day is now a global event and each year people from 192 countries take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world. The theme for the Earth Day 2018 is “End Plastic Pollution”.
According to some careful estimates, by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans. Unbridled increase in the use of plastic bags is not only causing environmental pollution but is also putting our marine life in danger. Plastic has moved into half of the sea turtles’ and almost all marine birds’ bodies. Like many countries of the world, the use of plastic is causing huge problems. At present, total solid waste generation in Pakistan is about 20.024 million tonnes a year, which is approximately 59,000 tonnes per day, according to an environment ministry study. This trash contains grass clippings, bottles, furniture, food scrap, newspapers, appliances, paints, batteries and plastic bags. Currently, more than 8,000 plastic bag manufacturing units are working in different parts of the country. Majority of these are in big cities like Lahore (6,000), Karachi (1,200), Peshawar (300) and Faisalabad (230). More worryingly, nearly 50 percent of plastic is used just once. Plastics, the report says, cause an annual estimated damage of $13bn to marine ecosystems. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) estimates that the damage caused by ocean plastics to tourism, fishing and shipping industries is $1.3bn in that region alone.
Current plastic packaging offers great functional benefits but it has an inherent design flaw: its intended useful life is typically less than one year. The material, however, persists for centuries, which is particularly damaging if it leaks outside collection systems, as happens today with 32pc of plastic packaging.
How to end plastic pollution?
- Introduce technology for making degradable plastic so that the waste plastic bags vanish, if left uncollected.
- Switch to reusable shopping bags: by using one reusable cloth bag, you can save up to 6 plastic bags a week that translates into 24 bags a month or 288 bags a year.
- Ban the use of plastic lunch boxes.
- Make strict laws for controlling plastic pollution.
- Ban plastic bags in the country and promote the use of paper bags.
- Increase the price of bags by levying additional taxes or increasing cost, to promote the use of paper and cotton bags.
- Try using reusable materials.
- Buy local food. Food grown by local farmers does not only support your community but usually has less packaging. This way, you will have helped out your ocean.
- Refrigerate food in containers rather than plastic bags.