In response, Earth Day 2018 is dedicated to providing the information and inspiration needed to fundamentally change human attitudes and behavior about plastics. This year’s theme is very timely and important to all of us because of the broadened reach of the Earth Day movement.
The idea for a national day to focus on the environment is attributed to Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. He and others like peace activist John McConnell and environmental activist Denis Hayes, all played a role in taking Earth Day from a national day to honor the Earth in 1970, to the world in 1990, where it is now celebrated in over 140 countries.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.
Further Reading: Op-Ed: Are your socks trying to kill you? Of course they are!
The origins of the first Earth Day were in response to a January 1969 blowout of a Union Oil Platform off the coast of Santa Barbara, California that dumped over three million gallons of oil and killed over 10,000 seabirds, dolphins, seals, and sea lions.
Since 1970, the Earth Day Network has broadened the scope of its reach – from helping to get environmental protections enacted, to educating consumers, helping form public policy, and creating campaigns that have lifted environmental issues onto the world stage.
To show how much Earth Day has grown in importance to people around the world, on Earth Day 2017, estimates show that over one billion people worldwide participated in the event.
End Plastic Pollution
How serious is plastic pollution? Yes, plastics are a part of every aspect of our lives. Think about this for a minute. From the moment a child is born, plastics are part of that child’s life. And as the child grows up, plastics play a role in the clothes the child wears to the choice of foods. Face it, plastics are everywhere.
Further Reading: North Pacific garbage patch is 16 times bigger than we thought
Some of the biggest sources of plastic pollution are the “throw-away” bags we get at the grocery store. Right up there with the bags are the plastic bottles – millions and millions of them. Added to these two items are plastic straws, “microbeads, six-pack collars, and even clothing.
A post on the Earth Day Network points out this startling fact: “If nothing changes, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish (by weight).”
Strategies for eliminating plastic pollution
The Earth Day Network has a number of key strategies that can be employed at the local, national and global level. They include:
Lead and support the adoption of a global framework to regulate plastic pollution
Educate and mobilize citizens across the globe to demand action from governments and corporations to control and diminish plastic pollution
Inform and activate citizens to take personal responsibility for the plastic pollution that each one of us generates by choosing to reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics
Promote the work that cities and local governments are doing to tackle plastic pollution
Empower journalists across the globe to report on the problem and its emerging solutions.
Work with universities, school teachers, and students to End Plastic Pollution with educational toolkits.
The Earth Day Network will leverage this platform of Earth Day, April 22, 2018, along with the growing excitement around the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2020.
One of the primary efforts with Earth Day this year is to create educated consumers, of all ages, that understand the environmental, climate, and health consequences of using plastics. If we can do this, just think of how much better our world will be.