Get down to earth and celebrate our planet – today is Earth Day.
Actually, given the fragile state of our planet’s environment, make Earth Day every day! From here on out, we need to shake off the apathy, distasteful self-absorption and over-consumption, and embrace sustainable habits and curb our wastefulness.
Earth is feeling the pain – deforestation continues at a frightening rate, destructive coral bleaching is alarming, and natural wonders crumble.
And our nasty habits contribute to Mother Nature’s struggles: Plastic pollution, for example, is a threat to human health and life on the planet. Single use plastics are shameful. Plastics use is on the rise by 10% a year. Even small things like disposable drinking straws, utterly unnecessary and generally not recyclable, add to the tonnage of plastic debris, and it sucks for the planet. In the U.S. alone, more than 500 million plastic straws are used every single day.
While there is an anti-straw movement gaining momentum in Canada, with kudos to Canadian franchise Boston Pizza for switching to biodegradable straws last year, we’re drowning in plastics of all kinds – five trillion pieces of it swirl in our oceans. And we just keep contributing!
It’s fast becoming Public Enemy Number One: “No corner of the earth, no animal, no body of water, no human, is immune from its impacts,” says Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network which leads Earth Day worldwide, and is campaigning to end plastic pollution. Fossil-fuel based plastics are fast becoming as serious a problem as climate change.
“From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet,” reports the Earth Day Network at earthday.org. The network has released an online Plastics Pollution Calculator (earthday.org/plastic-calculator/) for consumers to calculate their yearly consumption of disposable plastic items and make plans to reduce the waste.
Reducing consumption is a moral imperative, says Deborah Doncaster, president of Earth Day Canada. “Buying things and acquiring wealth does not create lasting happiness. Connecting to others and our natural environment is the key. This is the mindset of sustainability. Our children gain these values through spontaneous, unstructured outdoor play.”
consume less, play more
That’s their 2018 Earth Day message – “consume less, play more.” Outdoor play is vital to the healthy development, education and well-being of our children and to the sustainability of the planet. “As we reclaim the right to play for our children, we are fostering in them creativity, resilience, happiness and a sense of connection to nature which will produce ardent stewards of the environment for future generations,” says Doncaster.
Did you know that we’re rank 29 out of 41 countries for child health and well-being! Lack of outdoor play and independent mobility contributes to this poor UNICEF ranking. “Today less than 20% of kids engage in outdoor free play during the course of the day – the kind of play that builds resilience, self-confidence, connection and a sense of well-being. Kids are spending 60 hours a week on screens, and 60 minutes per week outdoors,” says Doncaster.
Earth Day Canada is aiming to engage 20,000 kids in self-directed outdoor play in 2018 through their EarthPLAY programs at earthday.ca. They’re also encouraging earth play for Earth Day by using loose parts in children’s outdoor play. “This is 100% cost effective in that it makes the purchase of expensive toys unnecessary, and recycles/reuses manufactured materials – tires, wooden spools, ropes, tools, kitchen utensils, natural materials – off cuts, sand, snow, dirt, etc. that would otherwise go to waste or trucked to sites for decomposition,” says Doncaster.
Loose parts are adaptable and enable creativity – they rank higher for play value than standard toys and playground equipment. It produces immeasurable creativity/imagination in children, she adds.
Start making changes today
Lessen your plastics impact with these tips from earthday.org:
- *Ask yourself every time that you are considering buying a disposable plastic item: Do I absolutely need this? Can I use something else that I already have? Could I buy something that I can use long-term instead?
- *Prevent the creation of micro-plastics by properly disposing of plastic products and being careful not to toss plastic products near waterways, beaches or in open spaces.
- *Pick up plastic trash whenever you see it, especially in ponds, streams, rivers, and beaches.
- *Choose not to buy products containing microbeads; choose products that have natural exfoliators instead.
Practice good sustainability
Smart sustainable practices are good for business and the environment.
Green Circle Salons is contributing to a healthier planetby helping divert millions of pounds of salon and spa waste from landfills. Think chemical-laden formulas, colour tubes and aerosol can, papers and plastics and more – 70% to 90% of waste is now being diverted by member salons across Canada that have joined greencirclesalon.ca.
Apparel titan VF Corporation – think North Face, Vans and Timberland – has progressive sourcing policies eliminating products that contribute to deforestation and human rights abuses.
L’Oréal’s Sharing Beauty with All campaign promises that by 2020 all products will come from entirely renewable raw materials and sustainable sources so that deforestation ends.
Unilever is also working to eliminate large scale deforestation from its supply chain by 2020.
Canadian airlines are aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the future by procuring biofuel transformed by forest residue, farm crops and consumer waste.
Thirteen Canadian companies were recently recognized as part of the 100 top global environmental innovators for 2018. San Francisco-based Cleantech Group reviewed 10,000 nominees from 75 countries. Leading the way in protecting the environment and growing the economy:
- *Awesense (BC)
- *Axine Water Technologies (BC)
- *CarbonCure Technologies (NS)
- *Ecobee (ON)
- *Enbala Power Networks (BC)
- *Enerkem (QC)
- *Farmers Edge (MB)
- *GaN Systems (ON)
- *MineSense Technologies (BC)
- *Opus One Solutions (ON)
- *Saltworks Technologies (BC)
- *Semios (BC)
- *Terramera (BC)
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies