Celebrating World Environment Day: Moving towards a plastic free life

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Mr Abul Kashem Russell is talking about plastic pollution facts of the world at the WildHour

Being a cheaper and easily available item, plastic has become an integral part of our daily life. Plastic is being used for both household and commercial purposes. The item, which we thought, made humans life much easier is actually becoming a life threatening issue for many wild animals especially marine birds, turtles, whales and dolphins. Plastics are polluting our water bodies, degrading the soil quality and damaging the overall ecosystem. Being a part of this ecosystem we human beings are also affected by this plastic pollution. The plastics we are throwing out in the rivers or oceans are coming to our body through water and food. Our health is also badly affected by plastic. This is happening mostly because of our negligent behaviour and improper system of waste management.

Recently, the plastic pollution grabs the attention of global community and the United Nations decided the theme for this year’s World Environment Day is “Beat Plastic Pollution”. To observe the World Environment Day Noazesh Knowledge Centre (NKC) with the support from USAID’s Bagh Activity organized a WildHour on 5 June 2018 on the same theme.

The event aimed to increase knowledge among the students and professionals about the impact of plastic pollution on the world and how we are responsible for this. It also helped to create awareness among the participants to adopt alternative solutions for plastics.

The event included talks on plastic pollution, documentary show, experience sharing and discussion. The event was started with a short video on plastic pollution in Bangladesh prepared by United News of Bangladesh (UNB). Ms Zishrat Hasan, Environment Specialist, Chevron Bangladesh and Mr Abul Kashem Russell, Student, Dept. of Zoology, Jagannath University spoke about the facts and impacts of plastic pollution in Bangladesh and around the world and its solutions. Mr Akib Hasan, Student, Dept. of Forestry and Environmental Science (SUST), spoke about the “Green SUST Campaign” to reduce solid waste in their campus. This campaign was done by the SUST students’ organization called “Green Explore Society”. The participants shared their experiences regarding plastic pollution and took part in an open discussion after the presentations. The event was concluded with an exercise where the participants discussed the alternatives of some single-use plastics and made pledge to avoid those. Around 30 participants attended the event.

The Noazesh Knowledge Centre, an initiative of WildTeam and Zoological Society of London (ZSL), was established in 2011 to conserve the biological diversity of Bangladesh through a range of activities, and disseminating conservation knowledge to wider communities. Equipped with a knowledge hub and convening space in Dhaka that houses around 1500 (and growing) collection of books, eBooks, free internet connectivity, computers, and study facilities, NKC offers its vast selection of services to any interested party or individuals. Anybody can be a member at NKC. N

In Dhaka city about 14 million pieces of polybags are thrown out everyday. In Dhaka city about 14 million pieces of polybags are thrown out everyday (Earth Day Network 2018).

Bangladesh is the first country in the world to ban the polythene bags in 2002 and also made a voluntary commitment at the Ocean Conference in New York in 2017 to reduce the marine pollution by 2025.

A 2016 report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that more than 8 million metric tons of plastic waste makes its way into the oceans every year, which works out to be roughly a garbage truck-full of plastic being dumped into the oceans every minute.

Microplastic particles can block nutrient absorption and damage the digestive tracts of the filter-feeding marine life that ingest them, while toxins and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) found in plastic can accumulate in the bodies of marine wildlife over time, changing biological processes such as growth and reproduction and even leading to decreased fertility (Elitza Germanov, a researcher with the Marine Megafauna Foundation and a PhD student at Australia’s Murdoch University).

More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our oceans and worldwide, 73 percent of beach litter is plastic: filters from cigarette butts, bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, and polystyrene containers. World plastic production has increased exponentially from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 162 million in 1993 to 448 million by 2015. By 2050, virtually every seabird species on the planet will be eating plastic. Some 700 species of marine animals have been reported so far to have eaten or become entangled in plastic. As of 2015, more than 6.9 billion tons of plastic waste had been generated. Around 9 percent of that was recycled, 12 percent was incinerated, and 79 percent accumulated in landfills or environment (National Geographic).

  • Issue 48
  • Vol 34
  • DhakaCourier

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