“End Plastic Pollution”As you take a walk down the streets, relax on the Georgetown seawall, travel in a mini bus or taxi, step into a store, or go shopping at our markets, just take some time to observe, and you would notice something common in all these places: Plastics. Plastic pollution is in fact one of the most complex environmental problems we face today; it impacts our health and wellbeing. This year, Earth Day celebrations will send a strong message to ‘End plastic pollution.’Earth Day, a grassroots movementYears ago, the world’s attention was on enjoying the benefits of industrialisation – large scale production of goods at cheaper prices; saving of time and labour; wider choices of goods; improved standard of living; and new modes of transport, rather than the harms that would later plague the environment. Around the world, and particularly in the US, evidence was growing for the declines in biodiversity and the gradual disappearance of many natural resources; pollution of air, water and land; and the increase of diseases. With this evidence, environmental awareness also grew, and on April 22, 1970, millions of Americans protested the negative impacts of industrial development.The US quickly responded by forming their Environmental Protection Agency, as well as laws for clean water and endangered species. The day has since been observed as ‘Earth Day’, and was also adopted by the UN in 2009 as International Mother Earth Day and celebrated by over 192 countries around the world. The Earth Day Network, the organisation which leads Earth Day worldwide, will be using the platform of Earth Day — as we approach the 50th anniversary — as a catalyst for global action against plastic pollution.What is the global campaign about?Leading a grassroots movement to support the adoption of a global framework to regulate plastic pollution;Educating, mobilizing and activating citizens across the globe to demand that governments and corporations control and clean up plastic pollution;Educating people worldwide to take personal responsibility for plastic pollution by choosing to reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics; andPromoting local government regulatory and other efforts to tackle plastic pollution.Why is plastic pollution a problem?According to BBC, “Plastic, as we know it, has only really existed for the last 60-70 years, but in that time it has transformed everything: from clothing, cooking and catering, to product design, engineering and retailing.” We have all contributed to the problem of plastic pollution, though sometimes unknowingly. As of 2015, human beings have created 6.3bn tons of plastic, of which 79% accumulates in landfills or the environment. It is estimated that if the current production trends continue and waste management trends continue, we can expect about 12bn tons of plastic waste to be in the environment or landfills by 2050. Marine animals like sea birds and turtles face the danger of becoming entangled in plastic bags and other debris, or mistaking plastic for food. Ingested plastic bags can cause internal blockages, and can even result in death. Large pieces of plastic can also damage their digestive systems. As plastic waste breaks down, it becomes tiny micro-fragments and can build up in the bodies of organisms. Plastics in food can disrupt human hormones, cause major life-threatening diseases, and early puberty.How to join the global campaign against plastic pollutionTake your own reusable bags when you go shopping, or ask for cardboard boxes to pack your items.Stop using disposable plastics, especially single-use plastics like bottles, bags and straws.Use reusable bottles for water, and reusable mugs for coffee.Join a local park, river or beach clean-up.Form a “green team” at your office to find cost-effective ways to conserve resources and promote sustainability.Volunteer for a local environmental group and/or make a donation.Demand that leaders and corporations control and clean up plastic pollution.Local Upcoming EventsEarth Day radio quiz – April 19, 2018, 102.5 FMEarth Day Opening Ceremony – April 20, 2018, Baridi Benab, State HouseSingle-use Plastic Free Day – April 22, 2018Trash to Fashion Show & Exhibition – April 27, 2018, Main Street, between Middle & Quamina streets.See our Facebook page for more details.We must assess our consumption of plastics and determine how to lower our plastic pollution footprint. Guyana is moving towards a green state, and you are important in this process. Earth Day is April 22, but every day should be a step further to taking care of this lovely planet. Remember: the change starts with you!You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O ECEA Programme, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, GEORGETOWN, or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.