By Ireen Twongirwe
World Environment Day is celebrated annually on 5 June and encourages awareness and action for the protection of the environment. It is supported by many non-governmental organizations, businesses, and government entities, and represents the primary United Nations outreach day supporting the environment.
This year, the theme of World Environment Day 2023 is "BeatPlasticPollution," highlighting people's actions toward plastic pollution reduction. It aims to halt the degradation of ecosystems and restore them to achieve global goals. Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people's livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity. There is an urgent call to action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of the natural world.
Importantly, the United Nations General Assembly introduced World Environment Day in 1972. This day came into existence at the beginning of the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment. It is important to know the harmful effects of using plastic and how we can reduce its consumption.
On World Environment Day 2023, let's pledge to ban the use of plastic for healthy surroundings. It is time we take steps to stop climate change otherwise it can become a threat later on. Everyone should consciously stop its usage.
Surprisingly, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute worldwide, and five trillion plastic bags are used each year. Half of all plastic manufactured is intended for single-use, worsening the problem. Plastics, especially microplastics, are unmistakably present in our natural environment. India has been dealing with a big plastic problem like many other countries.
We live in a world dominated by a capitalist economy that encourages us buy, buy, buy –to consume, consume, consume and then just throw the stuff away only to buy more stuff. Capitalism depends on an extractive economy that takes more and more raw materials and energy and turns them into goods or commodities. They then use the profits to invest in more production which means more raw materials and energy are used. This is why sometimes we term waste as a political issue.
When we talk about the theme of the day, plastic was used to replace everyday things like buckets, bowls bottles, and things that used to be made from natural materials like wood, leather among others. Plastic objects and packing are now used worldwide by the rich and poor. As a result, plastics have become one of the worst waste problems the world is facing because there not biodegradable and it never stops polluting the land, the air, and the water. More so, it’s important to note that 99% of plastics are made from fossil fuels such as oil and gas and 1% of plastics are made from plants.
Poor waste management and plastic pollution are greatly responsible for climate change and global warming destroying life on the planet. This has increased green gas emissions hence limiting the country to achieving its target of reducing the carbon gas emission by 24.7% in 2030 according to their NDCs and globally keeping 1.5 degrees alive according to the Paris Agreement.
Towards zero waste, we can be part of the solution. First and foremost we need to transition from capitalism to a just transition and Regenerative economy. We can do this both at the individual level government and organizational levels.
At an individual level, we need to use the idea in the hierarchy of waste to resist, reduce, reuse recycle and repurpose waste. At the organizational level, we need to build awareness of zero waste in our communities and develop projects that are waste and plastic free, we also have to build solidarity with other movements. Together then, we can lobby government and development partners to intervene in industrial practices and provide
We have to prevent waste in order to move towards zero waste.
We need to appreciate nature because it takes care of its waste such as dead branches and leaves from trees rot down to produce compost for plants and food for small creatures and leftover foods and vegetables also become nutrition for plants and animals. More so, animal droppings become manure and make the soil rich in nutrients.
In my opinion, capitalism, poor governance and colonialism are the major factors for plastic pollution in our environment. Therefore, we need to hold the big companies that produce plastics and oil companies accountable for the destruction of our environment due to climate change impacts.
# No waste Colonialism #Break Free from Plastic pollution.
Happy world environmental day: For God and my Country
Ireen Twongirwe is the Executive Director of Women for Green Economy Movement Uganda.