Protect our planet against plastics
April 19, 2024

Protect our planet against plastics

On Monday of next week, the global community will be observing EARTH DAY with a variety of activities. This day has been observed since 1970 with the aim of focusing on the need to protect and preserve the only home we share, Mother Earth. It is a day that the spotlight will target the damage being done to our environment, particularly by the plastics that we manufacture and use, and is the third one within what has been designated as the Decade of the Ecosystem.

The focus for 2024 is therefore on ending the manufacture and use of plastics, and targets have been set in this regard. Thus, the target date of the year 2030 has been set for the phasing out of single-use plastics. Readers would remember the storm that broke out when the government announced restrictions on the use of this category of plastics in SVG some years ago.

But consumers may argue, why plastics? After all plastics, bags especially what are called single use, adapted to multi-use in many households, have proven to be almost indispensable in the eyes of many. That is why so many people were upset when the restrictions were first announced.

However, the world today is not as simple as only considering your personal convenience. This is a world in which there is the reality of climate change, already causing environmental havoc in small vulnerable countries like ours. Sadly, despite the obvious convenience, plastics are not friendly to the environment at all and have been singled out as a major contributor to environmental degradation and health. Plastics derive from fossil fuels, the production of which is itself a major contributor to damaging the environment. They are a source of dangerous toxins, causing cancer and many other deadly illnesses. Worse, even after disposal, they simply do not go away, it takes hundreds of years for plastics to degrade, according to scientists.

There is also the pollution factor, on land but also in rivers, streams and above all the oceans. This results in damage to valuable marine sources of food and in turn affects the livelihood of millions of people who depend on marine resources as a source of income. In turn this also has a negative effect on employment and thus the standard of living. The “convenience” we desire is far outweighed by the negative consequences.

For all these reasons the worldwide concern for the preservation of a healthy environment, both to ensure a healthy population as well as to guarantee a safe future for generations to come, has resulted in mounting pressures on governments, manufacturers and businesses to act against the wanton use of plastics.

Unfortunately, the environmental awareness in small countries like ours, countries which are most vulnerable, is far from what it ought to be. Right on the eve of Earth Day, we are yet to hear of any major activity planned by government to mark this occasion. Just before press time (yesterday) there was an announcement that the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on Youth is spearheading activities, but on Wednesday, the Ministry of Agriculture seemed unaware of this, though one of its units, the Forestry Division, expects to partner again this year with civic groups to undertake commemorative activities, including a reforestation initiative in the Montreal area. Yes, we must continue to join in international campaigns for access to resources to enable us to deal with environmental programmes, but we can do much more about environmental awareness and education.

Why not start with joining the rest of the world in protecting Planet Earth against the dangers of plastic pollution?