Every year on 5th of June, United Nation's World Environment Day is celebrated to create awareness about and combat environmental issues. 143 countries participate annually in global campaigns with a new theme to focus on each year. This year's theme is “Beat Plastic Pollution." But why is reducing plastic pollution important?
Last month I sat writing a final paper for my university Language, Law and Ethics class about whether it is ethical to charge people 10 cents per plastic bag in groceries to decrease the negative environmental impact in the US. As I was researching, it appalled me that barely any steps are being taken towards sustainability in US, when UK charges 5 pence per plastic grocery bag. Flip-side being, that US uses over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps yearly, requiring 12 barrels of oil to create, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Plastic, in fact, personifies the threat to nature as it is made of non-biodegradable material — those that bacteria cannot break down, and is created from oil and natural gas, which are two non-renewable natural resources.
So how do we 'beat' the plastic pollution? Here are five ways you can make a difference by being mindful during this year's World Environment Day:
1. Take your own grocery bag
5 grocery bags per week equals 20 per month and 240 a year. That's a lot of plastic that goes waste in just buying food for yourself. Let alone the necessary festival gift-shopping and clothes- shopping that causes more plastic to go waste. Get in the habit of bringing your own bag with you whenever you shop to avoid plastic bags from grocery stores and shops.
2. Avoid plastic bottles
This one isn't as hard as it sounds, since there are so many alternative options available to us like Hydro Flasks and glass bottles. For every plastic bottle we use and discard, more plastic gets wasted.
3. BYOC - Bring Your Own Cup
This one's especially for the college students: every party you go to, so many plastic party-cups are used and thrown for each drink because there is no concept of refills. Bring your own cup to parties and picnics so that you can not only reduce the plastic usage, but also set as an example to others.
4. Refuse straws
There are so many times that you don't even realize that you sip your water or drink at the restaurant through a straw when you could directly drink from the glass. Not only that, nowadays brands are coming up with sustainable designs of reusable straws, which could be carried to anywhere and used at any time.
5. No more coffee cups
The one thing I have seen Americans drink every morning is coffee- without fail. A reusable flask or thermos instead of a disposable cup can go a long way in reducing plastic disposal considering how many Americans have coffee daily.
These are just a few of many steps you can take to become more mindful about sustainability. After all, what better day might there be to start than the World Environment Day itself?