The other evening I was out having dinner with a good friend. We were discussing plastic pollution (yes it was a very exciting evening!). My friend asked if I thought cutting down on plastic consumption actually made a difference or does it just make us feel better. Initial ly, my reaction was to say that if everybody had that attitude then nothing would ever change. But then I started to think more deeply about the question.
Admittedly, in the developed world, most of us are in a position to be able to worry about things other than where our next meal is coming from or if we’re going to survive another day. But the people who are struggling to survive in developing countries such as the small island developing states, are suffering the most from climate change. This is to a large extent, due to the activities of the developed world.
In addition, the 47 least developed countries are the fastest growing. Between 2019 and 2050 these populations are projected to more than double. Climate change and plastic pollution will be a major problem in these regions.
Current figures show that the world population is 7.7 billion. Europe and North America including Canada have a combined population of over 1.3 billion. So even if we just consider the western world, that’s 1.3 billion consumers of plastic!
6 Billion Population Increase in 200 Years!
We’re starting to see major changes in attitude towards plastic pollution from supermarkets and manufacturers. This is due mainly to increased public awareness of the negative impact of plastic and hence, changes in shopping habits. For example,
- Sainsbury’s have already started a programme to reduce their plastic packaging by 50% by 2025.
- Unilever have just announced it will eliminate 100,000 tonnes of plastic packaging by 2025.
- Kerbside reycling collections were down to a major campaign by Friends of the Earth and its members.
- Plastic packaging alternatives are being developed using materials such as cornstarch.
- Organisations like The Ocean Cleanup are actually starting to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
It’s an amazing fact that, it took 200,000 years for the world population to reach 1 billion and only 200 years to reach 7 billion. It’s estimated this figure will increase to 9.7 billion by 2050. Consequently, unless we reduce the amount of plastic we consume, it is only going to keep increasing. Plastic consumption and plastic pollution go hand in hand, so the more we reduce consumption, the more production will reduce.
We’re Beginning to Move in the Right Direction.
Given these points, I really do feel that things are beginning to move in the right direction. But with a growing population more has to be done to reduce plastic consumption. There are 67.5 million of us in the UK, 1.3 billion in Europe/North America. we really do need to keep working together to make a difference. So in answer to my friends question I think every individual that makes changes to reduce their plastic and carbon footprint is making a big difference and we should feel good about it!
More and more organisations are taking positive action to reverse the impact or reduce the use of plastic. If you want to learn more about these organisations, please click on this link – https://ecosaviours.com/useful-links/
(Population figures from U.N Population)