Each year, more than 8 million metric tonnes of plastic end up in oceans harming the marine life and polluting our oceans. Plastic pollution is nothing new however the consequences are more visible now than ever. Lots of political decisions have been made to improve the current situation. The discussion of plastic pollution is one of the hot topics of today in the major institutions such as the EU and UN. Just couple weeks ago European parliament voted to ban single-used plastic and aims to put it into operation by the 2021 in the entire block. Also UN Environment has launched an unprecedented global campaign to eliminate major sources of marine litter: microplastics in cosmetics and the excessive, wasteful usage of single-use plastic by the year 2022.
Big decisions are very important but in my opinion the choices that we do as individuals in our everyday life has a huge impact as well. With our choices we can not only spread knowledge among our closest ones and inspire them to think about their choices but create pressure to the major corporations to provide more environmentally friendly services and products. Supply and demand has to meet and if we are able to demand environmentally friendly options the providers have to change their services. Of course this is a long process and the issue is global and that brings various sides to the problem but the direction has to be changed at some point.
We as Rotaractors and Rotarians can lead with example and show how individual choices and small local initiatives can make a big impact globally. Our End Plastic Now as a Pan European project for 2018-2019 is an initiative to start a bigger movement among Rotary community and spread it even bigger as a long term goal. As a start all European Rotaract clubs are encouraged to do at least one project, initiative, educational action or something similar during the rotary year 2018-2019. End Plastic Now aims to spread the knowledge as much as possible and therefore everyone’s help is needed. We have around 20 000 Rotaractors as members in the E.R.I.C. and with that amount of people we can already start the movement for having less plastic polluted world.
In my personal life I have been thinking a lot lately what kind of changes can I make to have a difference and reduce plastic pollution. Here I will tell you some examples of my life that hopefully will show how easy it is to start caring about our nature. First I do not buy water in bottles. I have my own bottle that I carry around and fill it from the tap. I realize that it is not possible to drink tap water in every country but in many places there is filtered water available. Second I recycle my plastic at home. In Finland many buildings have a separate container for plastic that can be recycled. So I have a separate bin at home that I collect all the plastic that I consume. I have to be honest I was a bit shocked at first how much plastic waste I had. Now I have been able to reduce that because I think twice before I buy something that is wrapped in plastic. In some cases plastic can not be avoided but if there is other option I often try to choose that. I love to drink coffee and often I have to take it with me. So as a last example I have a keep cup that I always carry with me. I make coffee home and take it with me to work. If I go to a cafe and want to take coffee with me I take it to my keep cup instead of using disposable cup. I know there is a lot more that I could be doing but also there is so much that one person can change in a short time. I am aiming to do more in the future for sure.
Just to remind the instruction for your club how to participate ‘End Plastic Now’:
Sit down with your club and discuss what could be a relevant project in your local area -topic is End Plastic Now
Start planning the project
Execute your project and post it in Social media channels with #rotaractendplasticnow and #rotaracteurope
Let the Social team know what your club has done by the 17th of March 2019
If you have any questions about the ‘End Plastic Now’ you may contact your own Country Representative, District Representative or directly send your questions to the Social Office team.
We can do this together #rotaractendplasticnow
E.R.I.C. Social Officer 2018-2019