Earth Day 2018 calls for end of all single-use plastics

Published by Niall Sargent on

April 19th, 2018

Global call to support the effort to eliminate single-use plastics set to be the main driver during Earth Day 2018 this Sunday.

Earth Day Network, the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide, announced that Earth Day 2018 will focus on mobilizing the world to End Plastic Pollution.

The day will be used to educate millions of people around the world about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of oceans and wildlife.

EDN has built a multi-year campaign to End Plastic Pollution with the goal of ending single-use plastics, and promoting plant-based alternatives and  100 per cent recycling of plastics.

“There is a growing tidal wave of interest in ending plastic pollution and some countries and governments are already in the vanguard,” said Kathleen Rogers, President of EDN.

“Earth Day Network believes we can turn that tidal wave into a permanent solution to plastics pollution.”

In Europe, artists have created enormous works of art across Europe to protest against plastic pollution in the run-up to Earth Day.

Sand etchings up to 30 metres in diameter depicting sea creatures battling with plastic waste have appeared on beaches in France, Spain, Portugal, the UK, and Germany during April.

Commissioned by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a final piece is set to be created on the Dutch coast this Saturday by Dutch artist Tim Hoekstra.

“Every time I come to the beach, I see washed up plastic, mostly food and drink packaging. It has got much worse in recent years,” said Hoekstra, who has campaigned against plastic pollution since 2013.

“It makes me sick to think that our kids might never know what a clean beach or water is really like.”

In Ireland, Environmental campaigners have urged the public to join them on Saturday in a day of active protest against excessive supermarket plastic packaging.

On Saturday, the Sick of Plastic Campaign is asking members of the public to join them in taking any excess plastic packaging off items at the checkout during their normal shopping trip and to leave it with the cashier.

The so-called National Day of Action on Plastic Packaging in Supermarkets will be targeted at large supermarket chains, such as Supervalu Tesco, Dunnes, Marks and Spencer, Lidl and Aldi.

The campaign group, led by environmental groups Friends of the Environment and VOICE, has written to large supermarket chains asking them to offer more items, such as fruit and vegetables and fresh bread, without packaging.

They are also asking supermarkets to make their own brand packaging easily compostable or recyclable and to demand other brands they sell to do the same.

Supermarkets are also being asked to bring in a plastic-free aisle in their stores, similar to what has been done in the Netherlands, and to set up systems whereby consumers can buy items in bulk.

Protesters brought along plastic waste from their recycling bins Photo: Sorcha McManigan

The campaign also wants supermarkets to set up a system for customers to bring their own containers for dried goods.

According to Marion Briggs, the volunteer National Coordinator of the Day of Action, the public is becoming more aware of the problem through shows such as Blue Planet II which highlighted the “adverse impact plastic has on our natural environment”.

“We’ve reached a tipping point,” she added. “The growth of citizen-led initiatives to reduce plastic shows not only are we sick of plastic, we’re going to do something about it. And we’re demanding supermarkets do too.”

Since the campaign launched, supermarkets have already responded positively. Last month, Lidl Ireland announced it will begin offering more loose produce thanks to customer’s demand for change.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London