As part of Earth Day 2018, on April 22, Earth Day Network launched an online Plastics Pollution Calculator, for “consumers to calculate the amount of disposable plastic they use in a year and make plans to reduce waste.”
“Plastic pollution is now an ever-present challenge. We can see plastics floating in our rivers, ocean, and lagoons, littering our landscapes and affecting our health and, the future of billions of children and youth,” Vice President of Global Earth Day at Earth Day Network Valeria Merino said. “We have all contributed to this problem – mostly unknowingly – and we must work to reduce and ultimately to End Plastic Pollution.”
According to Earth Day Network, 9.1 billion U.S. tons of non-recycled plastic has been produced to date, generating 6.9 billion U.S. tons of plastic waste- and only 9% has been recycled. Littered plastic kills wildlife and affects the lives of more than 2 billion people living without waste collection.
China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka lead the list of top 20 countries with the largest mass of mismanaged waste, according to a study cited in the 2018 Earth Day Action Toolkit. Other countries in the list include South Africa, Brazil and the United States.
A statement by Earth Day Network outlined the following steps to take, to lessen your plastics impact:
- Ask yourself every time that you are considering buying a disposable plastic item: Do I absolutely need this? Can I use something else that I already have? Could I buy something that I can use long-term instead?
- Prevent the creation of micro-plastics by properly disposing of plastic products and being careful not to toss plastic products near waterways, beaches or in open spaces.
- Pick up plastic trash whenever you see it, especially in ponds, streams, rivers, and beaches.
- Look up products on the internet and choose not to buy products containing microbeads. Choose products that have natural exfoliators instead.
- Consider changing the way you wash your clothing to reduce the number of microfibers that are released, wash synthetic clothes less frequently, purchasing items made of natural fibers when possible.