Earth Day 2024: Planet vs. Plastics on April 22

Earth Day 2024: Planet vs. Plastics on April 22

No one’s breathing fire or body slamming skyscrapers, but who needs Godzilla vs. Kong when you have Planet vs. Plastics? After all, as monsters go, it’s hard to match the scope and threat of plastic pollution — whether it’s the microplastics we ingest with our food and water, or the mountains of man-made single-use waste choking marine species to extinction. All of which makes “Planet vs. Plastics” a fitting theme for Earth Day 2024, which is putting its focus this year on the fight against plastics — and calling for a 60% reduction in all plastic production by 2040.

So, on April 22, join the individuals, communities, and organizations gathering to combat plastic pollution and manufacturing. Here’s how you can get involved and make a difference this Earth Day 2024.

A Brief History of Earth Day

Now more than half a century old — the first Earth Day happened in 1970, started by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson and activist Denis Haye in the wake of a 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California — the event has grown into a global phenomenon. In 1970, the event drew about 20 million people in the U.S. It’s now estimated to engage about one billion people in more than 190 countries worldwide. Additionally, it led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of key environmental legislation, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Why Planet vs. Plastics

Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing challenges of our time — microplastics can be found on just about every corner of the planet, even in our own bodies. They harm all living creatures and can particularly pose health risks to babies and children.

Millions of marine animals die each year due to ingestion or entanglement in plastic debris. Marine life is vital to life on Earth, with many absorbing carbon, producing oxygen, and acting as a primary source of food for communities and nations. And for those who eat seafood, it’s one of the main foods associated with microplastics. That’s because microplastics — small plastic particles less than 5mm in size — accumulate in aquatic environments, soil, and air, posing risks to plants, animals, and humans. Plastic pollution also contaminates water sources, soil, and food chains, which threatens ecosystems worldwide.

Beyond contamination, microplastics may be small but their damage is exponential. Studies have found that microplastics can accumulate toxic chemicals and pollutants, which may leach into the environment and enter the food chain, which can lead to everything from cancer spikes to reproduction issues.

How to Take Action Earth Day 2024

Searching for ways to get involved during Earth Day and show your support in the global struggle against plastic pollution? Here are a few of them ahead of April 22.

Reduce plastic waste long-term

Going completely plastic-free on Earth Day is a fun challenge to show your support for this year’s theme Planet vs. Plastics. The challenge forces you to see just how much our world is intertwined with single-use plastic — whether it’s the morning coffee from your favorite cafe or your packaged lunch at the office.

You’ll wake up to how plastic lurks just about everywhere, and you’ll find creative ways to avoid it. This can include anything from bringing a reusable coffee cup to the cafe, packing reusable silverware for lunch, or swapping out plastic-wrapped products at the grocery store for aluminum or glass alternatives.

However, we encourage you to take the challenge beyond Earth Day by aiming to reduce your plastic consumption in the long run. Adopt some sustainable living tips to get the ball rolling. The goal is to refuse single-use plastics whenever and wherever you can. Say no to plastic utensils, cups, and takeout containers, and bring your own reusable alternatives instead.

Are you still lugging around a plastic jug of liquid laundry detergent? Think of all the loads of laundry done every year — and the plastic jugs that, once emptied, end up in landfills and in our oceans. So, why not make the switch to SaltyLama eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets? Not only is the detergent plant-based and hypoallergenic, but the packaging is biodegradable and compostable. Better still, with a simple, affordable SaltyLama subscription, you can skip the store and the lines, and never run out of detergent again. The faster we ditch plastic in our daily lives, the better off we all are.

Participate in clean-up events

Earth Day events are largely about local activism. Join a clean-up event in your community to help remove plastic litter from parks, beaches, rivers, and other natural areas. Many organizations host Earth Day clean-up initiatives, providing an opportunity to make a tangible impact on plastic pollution.

To find events in your area, check your local newspaper and community groups or look up/register Earth Day 2024 events here.

If you can’t find any events happening near you, organize a clean-up event in your neighborhood, at your workplace, or similar. Gather friends, family, or colleagues to pick up litter and raise awareness about the importance of keeping our environment clean and plastic-free. Register your event to help others participate.

Support plastic-free initiatives

Get online and start signing petitions. Businesses won’t change until policies change. So, advocate for policies and initiatives that aim to reduce plastic pollution at the local, national, and global levels. Support legislation banning single-use plastics, promoting plastic recycling, and incentivizing the use of eco-friendly alternatives.

Use social media to spread the word about businesses and brands that prioritize sustainability and offer plastic-free alternatives. Choose products made from biodegradable or compostable materials, and support companies committed to reducing their plastic footprint.

Reduce your carbon footprint

Plastic production and disposal contribute a tremendous amount of greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing your carbon footprint — even beyond reducing your plastic consumption — you can help mitigate the environmental impacts associated with plastic pollution. Other ways to do so involve reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste, and adopting sustainable lifestyle practices such as using public transportation, conserving water, and supporting renewable energy sources.

Check out these eco-friendly swaps you can make in 2024.

Educate and raise awareness

Share information and resources about plastic pollution and its environmental impacts with friends, family, and colleagues. Use social media, educational campaigns, and community events to raise awareness about the importance of reducing plastic consumption, recycling responsibly, and supporting sustainable alternatives.

As we celebrate Earth Day 2024 and contemplate the theme of Planet vs. Plastics, let’s consider what positive, pro-planet steps we can take to reduce plastic consumption and promote sustainable alternatives. By working together, we can make a difference in creating a cleaner, healthier, and greener tomorrow. Happy Earth Day!


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