Planet v plastic: How you can embrace Earth Day 2024

Humanity is becoming increasingly aware of how we treat our planet. With more people experiencing the effects of climate change and global warming than ever before, the campaigns to protect the Earth are becoming more urgent. Earth Day has advocated for permanent, global change to save our planet for over 50 years.

Named the planet’s largest civic movement, Earth Day has inspired several policies since the charity’s creation in 1970. From the Endangered Species Act in America to the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement, the organisation has repeatedly proved that humanity can change for the better.

In 2024, the organisation is calling for a 60% reduction in global plastics by 2040. By promoting awareness of the harmful effects of plastic pollution, rapidly phasing out single-use plastics, and investing in new technologies, they hope to build a plastic-free world.

Why not take part on 22 April? Keep reading to learn more about the importance of Earth Day and what you can do to help.

How does plastic pollution harm the planet?

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the equivalent of 2,000 trucks of plastic is dumped into the world’s oceans, rivers, and lakes every day. Over a year, this adds up to more than 19 tonnes of harmful waste polluting our water.

This plastic doesn’t naturally biodegrade, so it can choke marine life, damage soil, and poison water for up to 1,000 years. This has a long-lasting impact on struggling wildlife and ecosystems, and can seriously affect people’s health and livelihoods.

Plastic also contributes to the climate crisis, as the manufacturing process used to create the material is one of the most energy-intensive in the world. A UN study reported that in 2019 alone, plastics generated 1.8 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, which is 3.4% of the global total.

How can we prevent plastic pollution?

Earth Day pushes for widespread policy changes, but individuals across the world working together can also incite global change. If you want to participate this year but aren’t sure where to start, here are some of our top tips.

1. Reject fast fashion

The average person today buys 60% more items of clothing than they did 15 years ago, but only keep the garments for half as long. Buying sustainable clothes instead of fast fashion could reduce the impact the dangerous industry has on the environment.

Alongside accusations of child labour, the fast fashion industry poses several threats to the planet. By spending your money elsewhere, you could help prevent their considerable use of plastics, intense pesticides destroying ecosystems, and high greenhouse gas emissions.

When you go clothes shopping, try to buy less and focus on quality over quantity. Look for natural or recycled materials, and buy second-hand where you can.

2. Join the Plastic Detox Challenge

Earth Day is encouraging people to join their Plastic Detox Challenge on social media this year, where everyone takes steps to reduce the amount of plastic they use in their daily lives.

Avoiding single-use plastics, such as carrier bags or packaging, will help move society towards a plastic-free future. And if you choose to share your progress online, you might inspire even more people to make the sustainable switch.

3. Keep an eye out for hidden plastics

Reusable water bottles and metal or bamboo straws are often people’s first thoughts when it comes to reducing our plastic usage. But some plastic items are hiding in plain sight that you could miss.

For example, did you know that all of these contain plastic?

  • Glitter
  • Teabags
  • Balloons
  • Cling film
  • Chewing gum

It’s important to keep an eye out for single-use items that may have plastic in them so you can switch to a sustainable option. For example, all of these items can be replaced by plastic-free alternatives or clever substitutions, such as loose-leaf tea or paper party decorations.

4. Get your milk delivered

If it’s possible, consider getting your milk delivered in glass bottles rather than buying it in plastic containers.

Not only will you support your local milkman, but you also benefit from the hassle-free experience of getting your milk dropped off at your front door.

5. Take part in Earth Day events across the world

Wherever you are on our planet, there are Earth Day events taking place this April. The main focus this year is on the Great Global Cleanup, where people from around the globe are picking up litter and recycling it to protect their local environment.

There are also art projects, fundraising activities, and marches you can attend to join the community and campaign for a brighter future. And if there aren’t any events that pique your interest near you, then you can create your own to spread awareness for this important issue.