“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Carl Sagan
Sunday, the 22nd April, is the globally celebrated annual Earth Day. The theme this year is ‚ÄėEnd Plastic Pollution‚Äô within worldwide campaign celebrated by 192 countries being co-ordinated by the Earth Day Network.
2020 will mark the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and the Earth Day Network are using this year as the launch of their End Plastic Pollution by 2020 campaign. They hope that this, alongside a number of other campaigns, will create a new consensus on how the planet should be cared for and managed. This year is dedicated to providing information, and crucially inspiration, to help everyone fundamentally change their approach to the use of plastics.
The shocking statistics behind plastic were highlighted in a paper by Geyer et al, published in Science Advances last July. This research highlighted that 7 900 billion tonnes of plastic had ever been produced up to the end of 2015, and half of this was in the previous thirteen years which demonstrating the growth in use of the product. The paper also noted that only 30% of the plastic produced is still in use and of the waste only 9% has been recycled.
As an Earth observation company we are passionate about showing everything that is happening to the planet and how it is changing.¬† The issue of plastic pollution of the ocean is one that is very close to our hearts. Sam began her career within the marine remote sensing community, a lot of work is based in the maritime environment and finally we‚Äôre based in the coastal town of Plymouth ‚Äď home to Plymouth Sound, one of the world best natural harbours. We‚Äôre huge supporters of this campaign.
The issue of plastic pollution has captured public opinion in recent years, and a number of aspects have hit the headlines, including:
- Reduction in the use of plastic bags: Local Devon town of Modbury was the first in the UK to ban plastic bags in 2007, and this was enhanced with the UK government action in 2015 to introduce charges for plastic bags.
- Microplastics in the food chain:
- In the last six months, one of our local partners, Plymouth Marine Laboratory has produced research which shows seals can consume these from their food and have images of fish larvae ingesting microplastics in the ocean.
- Dr Richard Kirby, who we work with on the citizen science¬†Secchi Disk project, has footage of plastic microfibres being ingested by plankton. It can be seen here on a BBC news report.
- Sam gave a presentation, Beyond the Blue Ocean, at a TEDx event in Leicester last year, which also highlighted the issue microplastics at the end.
- Amazing images from the BBC Blue Planet series, narrated by David Attenborough.
- Current pressure on drinks outlets to stop using straws and single-use coffee cups. Last year we got some straw straws, which we use at home!
There’s an interesting article on the problem of Plastic Pollution produced by sustainable swimwear company SLOactive, which has details on the five oceanic ‚Äėgarbage patches‚Äô, together with tips for reducing your own plastic pollution.
Earth Day has also developed a strategy, alongside a series of practical actions, to reduce the amount of plastic that litters the planet. This includes putting pressure of governments to regulate against plastic pollution, provide education materials and some practical actions and suggestions to enable companies and individuals to reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics.
The Earth Day website has information, quizzes, toolkits and calculators for:
- Personal Journey: Having a look at your own personal use of plastics, and get information and tips on how you can reduce it.
- Organisations: Examine how you use plastics and see how you might reduce your plastic footprint.
- Education Materials: To help anyone who wants to help explain, educate and inspire people to reduce the amount of plastic that they use.
There are events going on around the world for Earth Day, and many are using the hashtags #EarthDay2018 and #EndPlasticPollution. Whilst these events are great to raise awareness, it is as much about everyone doing something individually.
What do you think? Is it worth it making changes on your plastic usage in 2018 and help Earth Day end plastic pollution by 2020?