Fighting Food Waste & Plastic Pollution

Dr Anne Morris, chair of the ICJW Environment and Sustainable Development Committee, reports on current campaigns to Fight Food Waste and Plastic Pollution.

The current news about the environment can too easily feel negative and discouraging, particularly in relation to climate change and the crucial need to transition from fossil fuels to renewables. It is worrying that the majority of our political and business leaders are not prioritizing the vital actions necessary to maintain the health of our planet and the species living thereon. In the past, our committee drew attention to the grassroots, people’s movement to influence change by divesting funds from fossil fuels and re-investing in renewables.

The current committee intends to focus again on the positive actions that individuals and communities can take to contribute to a cleaner and healthier Earth. Our committee joined the campaign of OzHarvest to “Fight Food Waste“. This campaign has gone global and suggests easy and practical ways in which we can do our bit to help the planet in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Please urge our members and affiliates to join these actions  – find out more here.

We are also concerned about the alarming levels of plastic waste, including microbeads, plastic bags, bottles and unnecessary packaging. Plastic in its myriad forms is now choking our waterways, our landfill, our oceans, and killing our sea creatures.  Jade Weiner reports from South Africa:

Plastic and ocean pollution is a crisis affecting the world over. South Africa has embarked on a country-wide campaign to stop single-use plastic in shops, restaurants as well as micro-beads in beauty products. Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa announced an “ambitious new strategy” to combat plastic pollution. South Africa was among the countries that had endorsed the United Nations Environmental Programme’s Clean Seas Campaign aimed at stepping up international, regional and national efforts to combat marine litter. Former competitive South African pool swimmer, Sarah Ferguson, an ambassador for the SPAR Eastern Cape Stop Plastic campaign, did a 100km swim on the Elephant Coast in Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal last month to highlight the threat that plastic poses to the environment. Sarah recalled the gross amounts of plastic waste she saw both within the ocean as well as on the beach front. She wishes to be an advocate for the environment and for the animals who cannot speak for themselves.

The #Breakfreefromplastic campaign is another example where local South African citizens have mobilized to protest single-use plastic like straws, bags, containers, cups and bottles. Campaigns like these are putting pressure on local retailers, franchisers and service provides to turn to alternative means to pack groceries and meals. Green Peace’s global campaign notes that 90% of plastic is not recycled. By ending the manufacturing of single-use plastic we would be investing in and preserving the marine life and eco-systems for future generations of humans and sea creatures alike.

This is an issue that we strongly urge ICJW members to take up in their communities around the world. We have all had a part in creating this problem, and with greater awareness we can all make changes to address this horrific marine pollution. You can make a difference by:

  1. Banning plastic bags. Take your own non-plastic bags wherever you go and refuse to use single-use plastic bags
  2. Use your own reusable drink bottle or coffee cup. Prevent plastic bottle pollution by purchasing a long-life reusable drink bottle or cup.
  3. Avoid products with microbeads – tiny plastic pellets used in personal care, cosmetic and household cleaning products (e.g. facial and body scrubs, toothpastes and washing powders).

We also need to demand that every government supports our actions by implementing appropriate bans and legislation ensuring big polluters stop their toxic tide of plastic pollution.

Wishing us all the will to create a clean and healthy environment,