On Earth Day and every day, support the health of our planet

On Earth Day and every day, support the health of our planet

By | April 23, 2024

This year, Earth Day highlights a commitment to address plastic pollution by demanding a reduction in the production of plastics by 2040, a rapid phaseout of all single-use plastics, a strong U.N. treaty on plastic pollution and an end to fast fashion.  

Celebrate Earth Day by promoting change 

The first Earth Day in 1970 mobilized millions of Americans from all walks of life to birth the modern environmental movement. Since then, Earth Day has evolved into the largest civic event on Earth, activating billions across 192 countries to safeguard our planet and fight for a brighter future. 

While the inaugural Earth Day engaged citizens in advocating for more responsible, sustainable treatment of the Earth and its resources, businesses have also stepped in to create impactful change.   

Reduce, redesign, rethink 

In 2024, companies are developing sustainable alternatives to plastic products. This includes everything from plant-based packaging materials to refillable water bottles. Notable examples include BASF, a global manufacturer of bio-based plastics like PEF (polyethylene furanoate), a 100% recyclable, bio-based polymer made from renewable plant sugars and used to make recyclable bottles and films.  

Businesses are also launching campaigns to educate consumers about what they can do to reduce their plastic footprint. Cosmetics company The Body Shop raises awareness about the issue and promotes their refillable packaging options. They utilize informative packaging labels and in-store signage to educate customers about refill programs. 

Other companies are partnering with environmental organizations to clean up plastic pollution in local communities. These clean-up events raise awareness and directly address the problem of plastic pollution. One example is the Dow Chemical Company, which now partners with the Ocean Conservancy for their International Coastal Cleanup Day by providing volunteers and coordinating cleanup events in communities around the world.  

Why is plastic pollution a problem? 

Every day, the equivalent of 2,000 garbage trucks full of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes. That equates to approximately 19-23 million tons of plastic waste leaking into aquatic ecosystems year over year.   

Research shows that this plastic pollution can alter habitats and natural processes, reducing the ability of ecosystems to adapt to climate change and directly affecting millions of people’s livelihoods, food production capabilities and social well-being.  

The pervasive presence of plastics (especially microplastics) in the environment underscores the urgent need for collective action to address this looming crisis. Efforts to mitigate plastic pollution must encompass robust legislation, technological innovation and widespread public awareness.  

By tackling the root causes of plastic pollution and promoting sustainable alternatives, we can safeguard the environment, protect human health and preserve the rich tapestry of life on planet Earth.  

World leaders gather to negotiate terms of U.N. Global Plastic Treaty 

Fortunately, that kind of action is exactly what Earth Day promotes. This year, governments and NGOs from around the world will gather in Ottawa to continue negotiating the terms of the United Nations Global Plastic Treaty. 

For the first three sessions of the treaty talks, negotiators from more than 175 countries, industry representatives, environmentalists and others met to discuss ways to address global plastic pollution. 

The treaty is the first international attempt to address the plastic pollution crisis that is threatening both the planet and human and wildlife health. Though consensus was elusive at the last round of talks in Kenya, there is a High Ambition Coalition of countries this year calling for an end to plastic pollution by 2040. 

There is also a Global Coalition for Plastics Sustainability, including countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Cuba, China and Bahrain, which has positioned itself as the counterbalance to the High Ambition Coalition and is pushing for a larger focus on addressing plastic waste (via chemical and mechanical recycling and other means) rather than plastic bans or production limits. 

For greater sustainability we need more innovation  

As BASF, The Body Shop and Dow Chemical have demonstrated, there are multiple ways to address the issue of plastic pollution. And when companies find ways to address sustainability issues in an innovative manner, they not only contribute to a much-needed solution but also emerge as sustainability leaders in their industries. Here’s hoping that Earth Day sparks more innovation for the sake of our planet’s health. 

The Numbers:

  • Thanks to Earth Day, 100s of millions of trees have been planted. 
  • 7 billion Green School Grants have been provided because of Earth Day. 
  • 15 million people have volunteered to clean up sites around the world. 
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