Did you know that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish? And 90 percent of coral reefs will be threatened. My 11-year-old daughter was telling me these facts, as she was expressing frustration with our world’s “plastic pollution” problem.
Since the pandemic hit there seems to be a surge of plastic use, individual wrapping of food and items in general. This is understandable, as safety has been a vital concern; however, single-use plastic has been on an upsurge for decades and has become common place in our culture.
It is disturbing to think about the masses of plastic “garbage patches” in our ocean and the amount of microscopic plastic particles that we ingest daily.
At the same time, it’s hard to conceive how an individual can impact a macro change to our environmental footprint. Mahatma Gandhi’s quote “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” speaks to how it can start with ourselves. That, together we can make a difference.
Earth Day, which is observed every year on April 22, was coined the birth of the environmental movement in 1970 and Earth Day 1990 went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Together, a difference was made worldwide.
Reduce, reuse and recycle have been our mainstream vernacular for some time now. However, according to the 5R’s: “four actions should be taken, if possible, prior to recycling: refuse, reduce, reuse and repurpose,” according to RoadRunner Smarter Recycling. So, what can we do this Earth Day that produces less of an environmental impact?
Teach children to say no to plastic single-use toys and to straws.
Try, when possible, not to buy groceries wrapped in plastic, items that are plastic or at least single-use plastic.
Write companies and tell them your concerns and request eco-friendly packaging.
Reduce your consumption.
Shop locally and less online.
Does this sound taxing? Yes. However, living in the 21st century, it is up to us – the consumer – to create change.
If enough people abstain from purchasing single use plastic, then manufacturers will be forced to rethink marketing strategies and packaging plans for their products. We as consumers have the power to mobilize this change. Together we can make a difference by being a conscious consumer.
Let’s be the change we wish to see in the world.
Happy Earth Day!
Sheri Johnson-Horsley is the Family Services Coordinator for Salida School District R-32-J.