Plastic is one of the most pressing environmental challenges our planet faces, with 400 million tons of the stuff produced globally per year. With Earth Day coming up on 22 April, now’s the time to discover what’s at stake – and how you can help.
WATCH: The heroes and villains of plastic
Get ready for a deep-dive into the issues surrounding our addiction to plastic. The Story of Plastic, a documentary by Deia Schlosberg, is a compelling introduction to the topic. We learn that of all the plastic that ever existed, more than half was produced in the last 15 years. We discover that there is no system in place to deal with the resulting volume of trash. We see it choking up rivers in Indonesia. And fishing ports in the Philippines. We meet the local heroes who are demanding a healthy human environment as a basic human right and we see a powerful petrochemical industry that has vested interests in producing ever-greater amounts. But what if companies were made to own their impact? If they are held accountable, they become part of the solution. That moment may be a long way off, but In the meantime, it’s up to us to spread the word. The documentary was first aired by Discovery Channel last year, and now you can host your own virtual community screening for free. Find out how here. To really engage viewers, why not follow up with a discussion or Q&A?
READ: How to give up plastic
Will McCallum is in charge of Greenpeace’s activities on the oceans, so he knows a thing or two about plastic. He has seen microscopic shards of it in Arctic test samples where it had no business being. And he has campaigned for decades to stop its ever-increasing footprint on our planet. Practical, urgent and hopeful at the same time, McCallum’s book How to Give Up Plastic is packed with plastic facts and tips for using much, much less of it. And, in case you think you can’t make a difference, or want to put lifestyle changes off for another day, consider this: “Every victory against plastic begins with a single person or group of people deciding that the time to take action is now.”
PLEDGE: Do your bit and commit
Be the change and check out National Geographic’s excellent Planet or Plastic pledge. The initial goal of the campaign was to prevent a billion items of plastic from reaching the ocean by 2020. They have currently reached a third of that figure, so the campaign continues. Instead of making a vague promise, you commit to very specific actions that you choose yourself. Pick the number of plastic bags, straws, bottles or cups you want to reduce per week and then hit the ‘Confirm Your Pledge’ button. A message automatically tells you how much impact your pledge will make. Invite family and friends to get involved too.