The world’s oceans are in major trouble. Each year, we produce 300 million tons of plastic materials – and even though many of us were raised to understand the importance of recycling, 78 percent of plastics are not recycled or reclaimed. Unfortunately, that means that it is sent to landfills, but it doesn’t stay there. Most of the plastic trash in landfills eventually ends up in our oceans. This material might be convenient because incredibly durable and versatile, but the downside is it exists forever.
That’s why at this year’s World Oceans Summit, where it was revealed that microplastics in the ocean outnumber stars in the galaxy, plastic was a big part of the discussion. At the summit, the United Nations launched its new Clean Seas campaign, which takes a stand against microplastics and the excessive use single-use plastics such as water bottles, plastic straws and utensils, and plastic bags. This is an unprecedented campaign that is asking UN nations to make a commitment to cutting down on plastic before it’s too late.
So far, ten countries are on board with Clean Seas, including Indonesia, one of the world’s top producers of plastic, who has pledged $1 billion to dramatically reduce its plastic waste. The announcement was made by Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for maritime affairs. According to The Guardian, “Pandjaitan told delegates at the conference that Indonesia would achieve a 70 percent reduction in marine waste within eight years.” They plan to achieve this by proposing public education on the plastic problem as well as implementing a nationwide tax on plastic bags and investing in industries that make plastics from alternative materials, such as cassava and seaweed.
We applaud Indonesia on committing to making major strides in an effort to cut down on plastic. Taxing plastic bags has been incredibly effective in Great Britain, where in just one year they have seen a 50 percent reduction in the amount of plastic bags found in ocean clean-ups. Plus, the technology to start making plastic from alternative materials exists. Companies like India’s EnviGreen have developed a bag made from vegetable oil and starch that looks and acts like plastic but is completely biodegradable. Similarly, there is also a company that makes plastic-like bags from cassava starch.
So far, the United States has not joined the UN’s Clean Seas campaign. While we hope to see our country make more of an effort in reducing its plastic waste, we can still cut down on plastic in our daily lives by making easy switches, such as remembering to bring a reusable tote with you on shopping trips and swapping single-use coffee cups and water bottles for reusable options.
For more tips and tricks on how to cut plastic out of your life, check out the following articles:
- 26 Plastic-Free Essentials You Need in Your Life to Help Protect Marine Species and Our Oceans
- How Shopping Waste Free is Better for Your Health and the Planet – Plus 3 Easy Tips to Help You Do it
- 10 Life Hacks to Help You Cut Plastic Out of the Picture
And to learn more, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign.
Lead image source: Ethan Daniels/Shutterstock