Use These Five Plastic Pollution Solutions to Create Change
Plastic waste is a global problem that is decimating our oceans and putting animals, humans, and our ecosystem in jeopardy. Every year, humans produce 300 million tons of plastic waste—and the life cycle of most plastics spans centuries, according to WWF. Scientists and environmental watchdogs agree that we’re in the midst of a true plastic crisis.
Although it’s tough not to be discouraged by the current state of our environment, the good news is that there is still a lot you can do to reduce your plastic footprint. Read on for plastic pollution solutions that you can try right now.
What is plastic pollution and why do we need to take action?
Plastic pollution occurs when plastic materials make their way into our natural environment and negatively affect wildlife and human beings. Because of its convenience and low production cost, plastic has cropped up everywhere and is now an inescapable part of our daily lives.
The main problem with plastics is that they don’t completely biodegrade—they break down into smaller pieces called microplastics that contaminate our oceans, drinking water, soil, and much more. To put this into perspective, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 if we keep producing plastic pollution at our current rate.
Plastic pollution facts that might surprise you
- The equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters the oceans every minute, according to Greenpeace.
- Since 2004, the world has made as much plastic as it did in the previous half-century, according to Sage Journals.
- According to the same study above, 56% of the world’s plastic waste comes from five countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.
- According to Plastic Oceans International, over 90% of all seabirds have plastic pieces in their stomachs.
- We throw away about 50% of all plastic after a single use, according to EcoWatch.
Five ways to fight plastic pollution
The statistics about plastic pollution are troubling, but there are concrete ways you can reduce the amount of plastic you’re putting into the environment. Here are five ideas on how to stop plastic pollution right away.
1. Practice the five R’s
The five R’s—refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle—are a great jumping-off point for becoming more conscious of your plastic use. Environmentalists agree that recycling at this point simply isn’t enough, which is why it’s critical to use the other method s to combat plastic consumption as well. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Avoid purchasing items in single-use plastics
- Store food items at home in glass containers instead of Tupperware or plastic baggies
- Carry your own reusable coffee cup with you
- Learn how to recycle better
- Buy from grocery store bulk bins and bring your own reusable containers
- Avoid using plastic bags at the grocery store and bring your own reusable bag
- Instead of throwing out clothing that is ripped, try repairing it or creating a different garment from the fabric
- Skip plastic utensils and carry your own reusable utensil kit for eating meals on the go.
- Invest in a reusable metal or wooden straw so that you never have to use a plastic straw again.
2. Participate in an Earth Day event
April 22, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, so there are bound to be plenty of Earth Day ideas to get involved with. Earthday.org hosts an annual event and plans to drive even more involvement this year with its 50th-anniversary event called EARTHRISE. The event consists of a series of strikes around the globe centered on demanding action for climate change.
If you’d like to be an Earth Day volunteer, there are countless opportunities so you can give your time that way, as well. The Earth Day Initiative is just one organization that offers year-round volunteering and Earth Day-specific events.
3. Fundraise to make a difference
Whether you need funding for Earth Day activities or you want to financially support an environmental charity, crowdfunding can be a big help. Through the power of free fundraising, you can rally support from your friends, family members, and community—you can even grab the attention of people across the globe.
- Write a fundraiser story that highlights your passion for improving the environment. You can do this by providing details about why your mission is important, and what you’ll use the funds for.
- Take a look at these 25 fundraiser sharing tips to increase donations.
- Be sure to keep your supporters updated through fundraiser updates.
- Everyone appreciates a heartfelt thank you, so learn how to craft a thoughtful donation thank-you letter.
4. Plan a green event in your community
Are you someone who is energized by organizing and planning events? If so, then launching a green event in your community may be one way you can make a difference on a local scale.
To start, determine what your community most needs help with. Are the beaches in desperate need of a clean-up, or would your neighborhood benefit from a community garden? Once you narrow down the need, you can focus on recruiting volunteers and planning the details. Even gathering a small group of friends for a casual clean-up has an impact.
5. Get political
Another way to raise awareness about plastic pollution is to join a movement or support legislation that aims to restrict plastics.
- The Sunrise Movement is an organization that fights climate change by rallying public support for the Green New Deal and by organizing sit-ins and marches.
- A Million Acts of Blue is a movement by Greenpeace that calls for several large corporations to reduce their plastic footprint. Their toolkit includes several ideas you can use if you aren’t sure how to reduce plastic pollution.
- You can support legislation that bans plastics by following the current legislation at plasticbaglaws.org
- If you feel called, you can also boycott businesses and organizations that are responsible for large amounts of plastic waste.
Are you ready to take action?
We all share the common vision of living in a world that’s clean and safe, but plastic waste is casting a shadow over that goal. The good news is that if we work together and take small steps forward, we can end plastic pollution in the future. If you have ideas for ways to beat plastic pollution but need some financial assistance, GoFundMe can help. Sign up today to begin raising funds for a brighter future right now.