Plastic Problems

Recently, I have become much more aware of the different forms of plastic I personally rely on throughout each week. It is as if every time I use something plastic – a little thought of guilt comes into my mind reminding me to always look for alternatives. Plastic forms of pollution and debris is increasingly jeopardizing both marine life, terrestrial animals, and human well-being.

The bad news is, we are all a part of the problem. The good news is, we are all also a part of the solution.

But in order to know what we can do – I think it is important to know what is being done and how we can support global efforts to reduce plastic pollution.  Because of this, I have decided to do some research into the topic and briefly fill you in on some plastic reducing goals that the United Nations has in place for the year 2030…

  1. Why Should You Care?

Well, mainly because we have a responsibility to ensure that this planet and its inhabitants have a sustainable future ahead. It is no doubt that society has benefited from the creation of plastic in many ways. We use plastics for transportation, energy production, food preservation, health related devices, and technology among just a few examples.

We have become very good at designing and using plastics for a variety of reasons. Plastic is great! It is durable, long-lasting, and versatile. But it is for these same reasons that it also poses a long-lasting threat to our environment. Methods to reduce plastic pollution and pay for its processing are now coming at economical and ecological costs. The plastics that benefit us are also now requiring strategic management plans to ensure their clean up, maintenance, and recycling. (And this is not taking into account the environmental costs many other countries are facing who do not have the same access to plastic control.)

And yet, the problem isn’t seen just in far away lands or way out in the ocean. If you talk a walk at the local beach, visit a near by park, or drive down any street with gutters – you might be surprised at how much plastic debris you begin to notice.

Now, if it still doesn’t seem like an immediate problem to you – consider that those plastics going into the ocean and into the dirt even a county away will ultimately come back to us in various ways. Whether we ingest them by consuming marine life who have unknowingly eaten plastic debris – consume polluted crops whose soils are tainted by traces of plastics – or drink from sources of water whose streams have also been impacted by the effects of plastic pollution. These are just a few examples and believe me there are many more…

However, this post is just to simply share with you what is being done by one of the world’s leading governmental organizations; the United Nations, and to suggest one way that you can make a change today.

Lets keep our rivers and waterways flowing pure.

2. Why Was This Study Carried Out?

The United Nations consists of 193 member states who all seek to come up with solutions towards the world’s leading problems. The problems they seek to tackle range from economic, to social, to environmental, and much more in between. They are the world’s largest intergovernmental organization and serve as a meeting point for all representing nations to attack national and international concerns from a global perspective.

3. How Was the Study Carried Out?

When the UN met in Nairobi, Kenya in 2014 – there were many topics discussed. Representatives from leading organizations and countries came together to share ideas, discuss concerns, and ultimately design frameworks for helping to meet marine pollution reduction goals by the year 2030.

The issue was discussed by taking into account the economic state of many countries – whether rich or poor – and how we can together take strides to reduce plastic pollution. And while the debates are long and drawn out – I would just like to share with you a few of the key points that were concluded with during that UN assembly.

4. What Were the Results?

While the results are long and extensive, I would like to share just 8 points that I think are worth knowing. Perhaps, the last point in bold is one that is perhaps the most ground level way to enact change. We must stop accepting plastic litter. We must try to find alternative solutions to our plastic needs. And we must deter plastic litter from reaching our oceans and waterways. As soon as you and I start to care – so will others. Its a ripple effect. So read on to learn of a few key points before I share with you the latest way I am taking action to reduce my use of plastic.

Eight (of the many) Key points as summarized by the United Nations:

  1. Plastic debris/litter and microplastics are everywhere in the ocean, occurring on remote shorelines, in coastal waters, the seabed of the deep ocean and floating on the sea surface; the quantity observed floating in the open ocean appears to represent a small fraction of the total input.

  2. There is a moral argument that we should not allow the ocean to become further polluted with plastic waste, and that marine littering should be considered a ‘common concern of humankind’.

  3. There is a clear need to Reduce (raw material use) – Redesign (design products for re-use or recycling) – Remove (single-use plastics when practical) – Re-use (alternative uses or for refurbishment) – Recycle (to avoid plastics going to waste) – Recover (reuse fuels, carefully controlled incineration for energy production.)

  4. Stakeholder engagement is essential – partnerships are particularly useful for communities or nations that may have common concerns but be geographically isolated, such as some of the worlds most impoverished countries.

  5. Marine plastics have a social, economic and ecological impact – marine litter has been shown to have significant ecological impacts, causing welfare and conservation concerns, especially for threatened or endangered species; social impacts can include injury and death; and economic losses in several sectors can be substantial.

  6. Improving waste collection and management presents the most urgent solution to reducing plastic inputs, especially in developing economies. This will also have other societal benefits in terms of human health, environmental degradation and economic development.

  7. There is a need to strengthen and harmonise monitoring and assessment effects to meet global commitments under the UN targets, and to target and gauge the effectiveness of reduction measures.

  8. Social attitudes are important – they have a significant effect on littering behaviour and the acceptance of reduction measures.

So – it is my hope that after reading you too begin to hear that same little thought of “what can I use instead of plastic“. If so and you would like to know more – check out the work of the Progression Foundation. I am teaming up with them as they strive to go plastic free for 30 days by using my own metal straw. (Now I know that may seem like a small change – but when you drink protein smoothies as often as I do – you go through a lot of straws!)

My challenge to you is to identify one common way that you use plastic throughout each week – and then find an alternative. Taking a small step like this will overall make a huge difference. If nothing else, make sure you appropriately recycle the plastics that you do use!

Don’t feel like you have to change your entire lifestyle (unless you want to), but do decide to make a small change this week that will create a positive ripple effect on this planet and those around you.

If you use straws and want to get a metal one of your own – here is a great link! Target now is selling metal straws as well as many other local retailers. It is a simple step that YOU can do to help the United Nations reach their goals.

Because in the end – we are all apart of this interconnected web of beautiful life provided to us by this planet. Let’s not be apathetic participants. Choose to make just one small change – while we still can.

5. Want To Know More?

Check out the original article by the UNEP using this link. 

(Or just go to the beach and talk a walk on the shore to see what I am talking about.)

Thank you for reading!


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