Tomorrow, June 5, 2018, we celebrate World Environment Day 2018 (WED 2018)! This year’s theme, “Beat Plastic Pollution”, is a Clarion call which specially focuses on the worsening cases of plastic pollution across the world and how each one of us can be a part of the solution.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that on annual basis, over 500 billion plastic bags are used! And out of these, an estimated 8 million tons of plastics find their way into the ocean: that is akin to dumping the equivalent of a lorry-load of garbage into the ocean every minute! In other words, every year, 8 million of tons of plastic wastes end up, indiscriminately, in the environment, constituting serious environmental and public health concerns. Since plastics are non-biodegradable, they accumulate in the environment for tens to hundreds of years! A good part of these plastic wastes also find their way into aquatic environments such as oceans where they constitute an extra bugging problem called marine litter.
Once in the ocean, fishes mistake these plastics for food, causing them to feed on them. Of course, when they do so, because plastics cannot be digested by fishes, over time, the fishes die from starvation, suffocation etc. Year in, year out, hundreds of aquatic life, including fishes, whales and seagulls, and turtles, birds, die in this manner.
But still, there is another more serious danger associated with this menace of plastic wastes: it is called microplastics. When plastics find their way into the ocean, over time, they break up into very small bits called microplastics which sometimes cannot be seen with the naked eyes, but of course, they exist, en masse, in aquatic environments.
While not much is still currently unknown about the impacts of microplastics although extensive research is being carried out on this area in various parts of the world, we do know that in the ocean for example, microplastics are so small and numerous, zooplanktons mistake them for food (phytoplanktons which are primary source of or primary producers of food in marine environments). These microplastics are retained within zooplanktons. As other animals feed on these zooplanktons, the microplastics as passed on along the food chain where they are retained (bioaccumulate) within the body systems of these aquatic animals. In fact, some of the fishes you have recently eaten may have contained bioaccumulated plastics.
So, can you see? No one is exempted. When it comes to the menace of plastic wastes, everyone, including you, is at risk! This is why we are must act, and fast too! And we do hope the occasion of this year’s World Environment Day 2018 (WED 2018) will spur us all to action.
This year, as we celebrate World Environment Day 2018 (WED 2018) with the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution”, the charge is that as governments, industry players, researchers, scientists, communities, citizens and individuals, we must play our roles in reducing plastic pollution and the damage and threat to aquatic life and human health by improving municipal waste management systems, finding sustainable alternatives to plastics, and in the meanwhile, taking more step towards ending the use of single-user plastics such as straws, disposable cups and food packs, polythene bags etc.
From all of us at Wastesmart, here is wishing you a Happy World Environment Day 2018 (WED 2018) celebrations!
If you are in Ibadan, join us today Monday June 4, 2018, by 8am for a road walk and an awareness campaign on World Environment Day 2018 organised by NESREA (National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency), South-West Zone, Ibadan, in partnership with FRIN (Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria) Headquarters, Ibadan and a public lecture commemorate World Environment Day 2018 (WED 2018) which holds tomorrow June 5, 2018, by 10am at FRIN, Jericho, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. You are cordially invited.
See you there.
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