Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22. Founded in 1970 to raise awareness and support for the environmental protection of our planet, Earth Day has become an internationally recognized holiday, observed in 193 countries. Each Earth Day, individuals and organizations come together to participate in events intended to embrace nature and its values for the benefit of future generations.
The theme for Earth Day this year is “Protect Our Species,” to highlight and place focus on the incredible threat to our wildlife and plant populations – destruction by human-created factors such as climate change, deforestation, poaching and pollution.
A particular area in the problem of pollution is the immense use of unsustainable plastic products and the damage to not only in our landfills, but subsequent toxins leaching into our eco-systems. Birds are constantly being found caught up in plastic items. Many types of marine wildlife are also affected. Most recently a whale that died off the coast of the Philippines was found to have over 80 pounds of plastic in his stomach. Likewise, fish are also consuming large amounts of plastic. And many animals – and humans – eat fish. It is an unfortunate toxic cycle.
There are things we can do to assist with this disastrous problem. Most importantly, try not to use plastic products at all. When you have to use them, try to recycle as much as you can. Other ways to minimize your plastic use include:
- Make sure to bring your reusable grocery bags to the supermarkets. This includes mesh produce bags. Store them all in the trunk of your automobile or by the front door for easy accessibility.
- Ditch the plastic cling wrap. Store food and leftover meals in reusable glass containers. Also available are reusable, dishwasher and freezer safe silicone lids that can stretch to various sizes and cover many different bowls and containers.
- One billion non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic straws are used every day worldwide. Use straws made of sustainable materials, such as bamboo. These straws are washable and reusable. They can last for years when properly cared for.
- Dining out and ordering takeout is a national past time. However plastic to-go boxes have little sustainability beyond a few uses. Recycle and reuse as much as possible, but another alternative is to bring your own reusable plastic containers for takeout orders and leftovers.
- Buy clothing made of natural materials. More and more, clothing is being made of materials that contain plastic. Then when washed, tiny plastic particles are going into the sea. You can also donate used and unwanted clothing – do not throw out into the trash.
- Many household products/ cleaners are packaged in plastic bottles and pouches. Look for eco-friendly alternatives that are packaged in recycled PET bottles.
- Keep hydrated and stay green with reusable water bottles. It is easy to purchase bottled water when on the go, however those bottles may contain Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that can be quite toxic. Instead, switch to BPA-free glass or stainless steel bottles.
- Go for eco-friendly personal care products. There are companies that let customers bring used bottles to be refilled at their stores and/or will recycle your empty containers. Look to your local community shops that offer artisanal soaps without plastic packaging. You can also make your own eco-friendly homemade soaps and cleansers.
- Those single-serve plastic coffee pods another big plastic problem. But everyone likes to have coffee, their way. So instead, use refillable K-cups/ single cup coffee filters.
- Your old/ unused electronics may be constructed of mostly plastic materials, however do not dump them into a regular recycling bin. Rather drop them off at special e-waste collection events (check your city and/or county websites for location and dates).
Celebrating Earth Day is important to the health of our planet. Everyone is urged to join the “Protect Our Species” campaign. Every individual green action does make a difference. By working together, we can slow the rate of extinction and help our endangered species to recover and thrive.
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