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Blog Post 12 April 2024 Updated 22 April 2024

Earth Day 2024: how to help reduce plastic pollution

Earth Day is the world’s biggest environmental campaign. It’s a day that calls for people to act, innovate and implement climate action.

On 22 April every year, people come together to recognise the changes needed to address the climate crisis and to take action. These changes need to come from governments and businesses as well as individuals.

For Earth Day 2024, the theme is ‘planet vs plastics’, and the organisation that runs the campaign is demanding a 60% reduction in the production of all plastics by 2060.

Why is the focus on plastics for Earth Day 2024?

The theme for Earth Day changes each year depending on what the organisation deems to be the most important focus.

This year, Earth Day wants the focus to be on reducing plastic pollution by:

  • Promoting global awareness of the damage plastic does to humans, animals and the environment.
  • Demanding the phasing out of all single-use plastics by 2030.
  • Encouraging the introduction of policies that get rid of ‘fast fashion’.
  • Earth Day Network president Kathleen Rogers says:

“The Planet vs. Plastics campaign is a call to arms, a demand that we act now to end the scourge of plastics and safeguard the health of every living being upon our planet.”

According to the United Nations, the world produces 430 million tonnes of plastic every year. Two thirds of that are designed to be disposable, and only 15% of all plastic is recycled.

When plastic breaks down, it doesn’t go away. It just gets smaller and becomes tiny particles called microplastics. These particles have been found in everything from soil to drinking water and even in human blood.

Rogers also says:

“In the case of plastics we have become the product itself – it flows through our blood stream, adheres to our internal organs, and carries with it heavy metals known to cause cancer and disease.

“Now this once-thought amazing and useful product has become something else, and our health and that of all other living creatures hangs in the balance”.

Five ways to get involved in Earth Day 2024

There are several ways to take part in Earth Day 2024 and help reduce plastic pollution:

Earth Day highlights

1970: The first Earth Day is held in the United States on 22 April. The campaign  is founded by US Senator Gaylord Nelson after he witnessed an oil spill in 1960.

1990: 200 million people in 141 countries take part – environmental issues go global.

2000: 184 countries and hundreds of millions of people demand action on global warming and clean energy.

2010: A Billion Acts of Green and The Canopy Project are launched.

2015: Earth Day is chosen by the United Nations as the day to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change.

2020: The 2020 campaign  celebrated 50 years of global climate action, where  one billion people around the world got involved.

What’s the connection between Earth Day and Energy Saving Trust?

In 1992, pressure from Earth Day paved the way for the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where environmental concerns take centre stage. Energy Saving Trust was created as part of the UK’s response to this summit.

Then in 1994, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was ratified following the Rio de Janeiro meeting. This introduced non-binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

The 1992 Earth Summit was the first of what became the annual Conference of the Parties (COP), attended by all the countries that signed up to the UNFCCC.

One of the most notable COPs in recent years was COP21 , which was held in in Paris in 2015. Here, a set of ‘rules’ were agreed to tackle climate change, which have become known as the Paris Agreement. These included:

  • reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
  • increasing renewable energy sources
  • limiting global warming to 1.5°C

Last updated: 22 April 2024