By Franz Müller, Chair, ESRAG Plastics Solutions Task Force

How You Can Reduce Plastic PollutionPlastic waste is a big problem: it is considered the second biggest hazard after climate change for humanity. We created this problem, so it’s something we can fix. This article explains how YOU can reduce plastic pollution, both as an individual and as a member of your Rotary Club.  But first, I’ll share a few of the reasons why we have to act.

Plastics left in the environment will persist for tens or hundreds of years. Especially if they reach rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans, they will be harmful to fishes, marine animals, birds, and more, and become more and more difficult to recover. Did you know that plastic additives leach into food and water, and are tied to fetal development issues, early-onset puberty, and reproductive disorders?

Micro-plastics, which come from the degradation of bigger pieces of plastics, but also from fillers and other small products, have been found in the human placenta and in our bloodstreams, since we absorb them through the alimentary chain. Every one of us can be sure we already have plastic in our body.

Research under way in universities and other laboratories keeps finding harmful consequences due to the presence of plastics in the environment and consequently in our bodies. Since this is an urgent and growing problem, what can we do?

You can make difference by adopting these simple actions:

  1. Carry reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags are accumulating on streets and on the soil. If not “compostable” they will contribute to the widespread pollution.
  2. Use a re-usable mug or carry a water bottle whenever possible. Most of the plastic waste found in waterways consists of bottles and other liquid containers
  3. Bring your own reusable containers to restaurants for leftovers. This achieves two goals: avoid producing plastic waste and help to save food from food waste
  4. Keep a cutlery set handy and use it instead of packaged plastic cutlery.
  5. Take the Plastic Solutions Pledge. If you agree about the importance of mitigating the plastic waste problem, you can commit to help the planet with simple actions.
  6. Subscribe to the ESRAG Plastic Solutions free monthly newsletter (just scroll down the home page to sign up) and follow on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter so that you will be updated and be able to participate in our events.
  7. Join the Plastic Solutions Task Force (free with ESRAG membership) to learn, plan or act to eliminate plastic waste. Send us a note via “Get in Touch” box at the bottom of our website. This is a great way for you to contribute directly to help others to understand the problem and run the solutions.

As the African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” As a Rotarian, the first group to take on board is your Rotary Club. Ask them to try one or more of these actions.

  1. For your club’s regular meals, replace single-use plastic with reusable plates, cups, and utensils.
  2. Same for club events: replace single-use plastic event items with reusable items, and explain why to your audience. This a great way to raise public awareness and set a good example to the community. See ESRAG’s Green Event Handbook to get help.
  3. Invite a local expert to talk to your club about plastic waste in your community.
  4. Invite a Plastic Solution Task Force member to speak to your club. You can send a request via the Get in Touch tool at the bottom of the ESRAG Plastics Solutions home page.