Forty-eight years ago the first Earth Day was observed. We have made some positive changes including phasing lead out of gasoline, removing asbestos from many products, and improving regulations on health and environment impacts of pesticides.
This year the focus is on reducing single-use plastics. Each year around 300 million tons of plastic go into the items we often use only one time. One study estimated that of all the plastics made, less than 10% were recycled. Most of the waste ends up in landfills and as trash blowing around on land and in water.
You can make a difference. Calculate your plastic consumption and make a pledge to reduce your use. Some things you can do include:
- Switch to reusable shopping bags
- Stop using exfoliating scrubs that contain plastic microbeads
- Skip the straw and encourage restaurants to use paper straws
- If you see plastic trash, pick it up and recycle it
- Wash clothing made from synthetic fiber less frequently (reduces the microfibers that are released)
- Pack lunch in reusable containers instead of plastic bags
- Switch from limited use disposables like plastic handled toothbrushes and razors to longer use or recyclable options
- Reduce plastic container waste by making green cleaners. (Recipes available from UGA Extension.)
- Use cloth rags instead of paper towels
- Stir drinks with dried pasta or add sweetener and cream to the cup before adding your beverage
- Carry reusable bottles and eating utensils
- Choose hotels that use dispensers for shower-products rather than individual bottles
- Educate others
Learn the history of Earth Day
Learn more about plastic pollution
Check out UGA researcher Dr. Jenna R. Jambeck who has been part of research teams on plastic waste.
Your carbon footprint