An Introduction to World Environment Day
On June 5th ,1972, the first-ever global conference that put international environmental issues at the forefront, took place in Stockholm, Sweden. The “Conference on the Human Environment” gathered decision makers to lay the foundation for environmental governance, identify finite resources, and discuss solutions on how to preserve and manage them. A total of 122 countries attended and developed an action plan that would mark a turning point in international environmental politics.
On December 15th, the General Assembly gathered again to mark the 5th of June, of every year, as World Environment Day. Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary and embrace the global effort to #BeatPlasticPollution. This year’s theme is meant to raise awareness about the effects of plastic pollution and spur momentum in the race towards a circular economy.
The Problem with Plastics
Floating objects in the ocean are known to attract life. For example, fishermen use buoys to draw in fish and reap greater quantities. The same concept applies to other plastics floating in the ocean. Because of this attraction, organisms such as algae and bacteria have begun colonizing floating plastic that then creates a film living on our ocean’s surfaces. These regions of film or ecosystems are known to scientists as the “plastisphere”.
As we work to #BeatPlasticPollution, it’s important to understand the harmful consequences of plastic production. Not only does plastic pollution disrupt ecosystems but it also creates many health, social, and economic problems. Plastic in the environment wreaks havoc on the animals who mistake it for food or get tangled in it. Additionally, chemical plants that produce plastic are typically located in low-income areas, leading to environmental justice issues by affecting already vulnerable populations.
What’s been done to fight against plastics?
The problem is clear- plastics do not provide a sustainable or healthy future for humans or animals. So what actions are being taken to
- On August 19, 2021, the Sarasota City Commission approved stricter local laws to ban single-use plastic in public places.
- On November 25, 2022, the county commission ceased to accept yard waste in plastic bags for processing at the Central County Landfill.
- “Keep Sarasota County Beautiful” is a program dedicated to the restoration and beautification of the county. The program holds clean-up events throughout the year that the community can get involved in such as county clean ups.
- Sarasota County has launched a Recycling Education Campaign to improve waste disposal. Below you can find an infographic created by the Solid Waste Department on what items to recycle.
- In 2021 the “The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act” was introduced into the Senate. The bill works to enact a variety of laws and programs to significantly reduce plastics production in the U.S.
- The Environmental Protection Agency has many nationwide programs including the National Recycling Strategy, WasteWise Program, Trash Free Waters
- In 2018 the U.S. The Department of Energy launched the Plastics Innovation Challenge. The goal of this program is to launch innovative ideas that provide significant solutions such as delivering 50% energy savings, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% and many other green targets.
Ways to Celebrate World Environment Day
- Attend an upcoming UF/IFAS Workshop! The extension office hosts a variety of in-person and virtual events FREE for the community to attend. These workshops range from learning about agriculture, composting, gardening, and landscaping, natural resources, nutrition/healthy living, and sustainability.
- Sign the Florida Microplastics Awareness Pledge.
- Use your voice! Be an environmental advocate on social media by showing your support with the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution. Each of our voices is important and can influence the ones around us more than we know.