How Soroptimists are supporting Enviornmental Day. If you can't reuse it, refuse it.
World Environment Day is a day when we as Soroptimists are able to reflect on actions we undertake as individuals or part of a club project, this action can be on a local, national or global level.
This year the theme for UN World Environment Day is “Beat Plastic Pollution”. This is a call for action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. The theme invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution. While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become over reliant on single-use or disposable plastic – with severe environmental consequences.
Plastic pollution is a defining environmental challenge for our time. It is estimated that roughly 5 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. That is almost 10 million plastic bags per minute. If tied together, plastic bags could be wrapped around the world seven times every hour.
Plastic bags can block waterways contributing to natural disasters. By clogging sewers and providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes and pests, plastic bags can increase the transmission of diseases like malaria. High concentrations of plastic materials, particularly plastic bags, have been found blocking the airways and stomachs of hundreds of species. There is evidence that the toxic chemicals added during the manufacture of plastic transfer to animal tissue, eventually entering the human food chain.
Global Plastic Pollution
• Up to 5 trillion plastic bags used each year
• 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year
• 17 million barrels of oil used on plastic production each year
• 1 million plastic bottles bought every minute
• 100,000 marine animals killed by plastics each year
• 100 years for plastic to degrade in the environment
• 90% of bottled water found to contain plastic particles
• 83% of tap water found to contain plastic particles
• 50% of consumer plastics are single use
• 10% of all human-generated waste is plastic
The most common single-use plastics found in the environment are, in order of magnitude;
• cigarette butts,
• plastic drinking bottles,
• plastic bottle caps,
• food wrappers,
• plastic grocery bags,
• plastic lids,
• straws and stirrers,
• other types of plastic bags, and
• foam take-away containers.
Soroptimists actions can include:
As consumers we should exercise our power. Make a conscious decision to refuse plastic straws and cutlery, leave beaches and parks as we find them - clean, take our rubbish home with us. Change your purchases in supermarket aisles. If this happens enough, retailers will quickly get the message and ask their suppliers to provide better alternatives.
Ultimately, individuals must act as both consumer and informed citizen by demanding sustainable products and embracing sensible consumption habits.
Soroptimists should advocate for change for companies to remove the use of virgin micro-plastics in consumer products like toothpaste, shower gels and creams.
Each of us has the power to change the way we use and dispose of plastics. Guided by the principle “if you can’t reuse it, refuse it”, here are some of the things we can all do to reduce plastic waste, recycle more and pressure businesses and manufacturers to design better products.
• Separate waste for recycling
• Avoid single-use goods like cutlery and cups
• Avoid buying overpackaged products
• Use fewer single-use plastic bags
• Ask food delivery companies to exclude plastic cutlery from deliveries
• Use re-fillable containers for food and drinks
• Find out what local options exist to reduce your plastic footprint
• Up-cycle products you own where possible
• Have Educate sessions at your next Business Meeting about the plastic crisis
• Encourage local schools to educate their pupils about plastic
Ultimately, there is no single, onesize-fits-all solution to the current plastic crisis. Governments, businesses and individuals will all play a major role in weaning society from its dependence on a material that continues to cause havoc in the environment
Lets use and share on Social Media your individual or club effort, take a photo and share it with SISWP @Soroptimist_SWP on your club or region Facebook page. Tell us how you or your club has contributed to World Environmental Day. Make sure to use the #WorldEnvironmentDay and #BeatPlasticPollution hashtags and mention @ unenvironment.
Impact on Asia Pacific Region
The economic damage caused by plastic waste is vast. Plastic litter in the Asia-Pacific region alone costs its tourism, fishing and shipping industries $1.3 billion per year.
Examples of how some Asia Pacific Countries and individuals are leading the fight against plastic pollution.
New Zealand, high school students called on the government to impose a 10 per cent levy on plastic bags in supermarkets. Public support for their proposal led mayors across the country to call on the government to impose a nationwide levy
Vanuatu has become the first country to ban plastic straws
Australia – All states except NSW will have banned single use plastic bags by 1 July 2018
In the Asia and Pacific region, four entrepreneurs have taken the challenge upon themselves to fix the problem as part of UN Environment’s Asia-Pacific Low-Carbon Lifestyles Challenge. Read the 4 stories here;
Fishermen in Kerala, along India’s southern coast, have been engaged in a unique exercise. In addition to hauling in fish from their daily trips to sea, they are now also bringing back large quantities of plastic waste.
As Soroptimist what is the single most effective thing we can do to combat single use plastic bags, and it is not purchase the more durable thicker plastic bags, or the green bags, but to replace our bags with Cotton bags, and instead of wasting old fabric, give it a second life, make or purchase your Cotton bags out of reused material. In Australia there are many Soroptimist clubs and individuals who have partnered with Boomerang Bags www.boomerangbags.org.
Highlighting Soroptimists Envoironmental Projects
SI Penang, Malaysia - The Habitat
SI Penang members made a visit to "The Habitat Penang Hill" in conjunction with International Children's Day and World Environment Day on the 3rd of June 2018. Children from Crystal Home, House of Hope, Batu Grace and Child Protection Society, together with SI Penang members and their children and spouses enjoyed the time exploring the nature reserve, the tree top climb and buffet lunch at David Brown.
SI Goulburn, Australia - Boomerang Bags
Goulburn Soroptimist has been involved with Boomerang Bags Goulburn since its inception in February 2017. Boomerang Bags are material bags made from recycled and donated material. The original idea was Boomerang bags - borrow and bring back but this has been modified to Boomerang Bags - borrow and reuse. The bags are normally free however some bags have a different pocket and they are sold with the money raised going back into buying cotton threads and labels.
SI Goulburn members attend working bees to:
• cut out the boomerang bags and handles
• makeup kits
• iron and sew pockets
• iron and sew up handles
• assemble bags
• cut out veggie bags from netting material.
Members also take kits home to sew up bags. Boomerang bags are distributed at local markets, festivals, Goulburn Show and are available in some local shops. Members and friends also attend garage sales to collect donations of materials to be recycled into Boomerang Bags
SI Beenleigh, Australia - Recycled Jeans
SI Beenleigh collect old and used Jeans and inconjunction with the Helena Jones Centre, these jeans are redesigned and recycled into beautiful bags. SI Beenleigh then donate these bags along with essential items to homeless people.
Soroptimist International President Mariet Verhoef-Cohen's President's Appeal - Women, Water and Leadership Project is addressing environmental issues in the following areas:
To read the full UN World Environment Day Key Message Document.
Information reference United Nations Environment http://worldenvironmentday.global