Earth Day was founded on April 22, 1970 to focus on educating all people about environmental issues. The Earth Day Network coordinates global activities and events on Earth Day. This year, the theme of Earth Day is End Plastic Pollution, towards which there is a large campaign. The goal is to provide information and inspiration needed to change human attitude and behavior about plastics.
This is not the only organization or event using the theme of plastic pollution this year. World Oceans Day is June 8, and the focus this year is “Preventing plastic pollution and encouraging solutions for a healthy ocean”. You can go to their website to plan an event in your area. They also have free resources you can use.
What Can You Do to Reduce Your Plastic Use?
There are many ways to reduce your use of plastics. If you Google reduce plastic use, you can find images and websites for different things you can easily do. Here are some common ways you can reduce your plastic use:
- Take your own cloth or reusable bag when shopping
- Carry and use a reusable water bottle
- Use your own cup or mug for coffee
- Pack your lunch in reusable containers
- Say no to disposable straws, cutlery, and tableware
- Skip the plastic produce bags at the store
- Recycle, and know what you can and can’t recycle in your community
Join a Campaign or Clean-up Effort
There are also campaigns where you can pledge to not use plastics. One such movement is called Plastic Free July. On their website, you can accept the challenge to not use plastics during the month of July. This pledge helps you to think about all the plastic items you might be using that you don’t realize. The One Less Straw pledge campaign allows you to simply pledge to say no to plastic straws. They list on their website non-plastic straw alternatives in case you’re having a hard time giving up using straws.
Another campaign is Microplastic Awareness Month, which is in September. This was created through the Florida Microplastics Awareness Project. This project is a citizen-science project where volunteers collected coastal water samples, filtered them, and looked for microplastics. There are several sources of microplastics, one of which is broken down fragments of larger pieces of plastic.
You can join a local clean-up effort to take plastic out of the environment. Keep Brevard Beautiful’s annual Trash Bash is on April 7th. This is part of the Great American Cleanup. KBB and their partners coordinate with local cities to help organize volunteers to remove trash. Their website has a list of all the events and locations on April 7th.
You can also make choices when going out to eat or visiting a local business. Keep Brevard Beautiful has a program called Litter Quitter, which highlights businesses that have pledged to reduce common sources of litter. This includes reducing use of single-use plastics like straws, plastic bags, and polystyrene (Styrofoam). Their list not only includes restaurants, but also ecotourism companies, retailers, and other local businesses.
There is also a program through the Surfrider Foundation called Ocean Friendly Restaurants. This is mainly a United States west coast program. But it’s starting to expand to other areas of the country and there are a couple of participating restaurants in south Florida. Restaurants that participate have a list of criteria that they need to meet. There are 4 criteria that they have to do, and a minimum of 3 other criteria that need to be chosen from a list. The mandatory criteria includes:
- no polystyrene usage
- recycling correctly
- only using resuable tableware for onsite dining
- not offering plastic bags for takeout or to-go orders
There are so many ways to reduce your plastic use and to help keep plastic out of our landfills and environment. Just find the ways that work best for you!