On Earth Day I am taking the opportunity to highlight their focus this year of ending plastic pollution.
I am personally taking steps to reduce the amount of single use plastics in my life by using a refillable water bottle, refusing straws when buying drinks in cafes and bars, whilst ensuring I use reusable bags for my grocery shopping.
Litter collecting monkey at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Single us plastic bottle and straw.
Single use plastics present a moral juxtaposition for me.
For the urban poor in developing countries, informal waste recycling is a common way to earn income. Plastic waste is an unsightly pollutant littering the environment. It is believed, 1% of the urban population in developing countries relies on recycling as their primary household income. I have witnessed this first hand when visiting Cambodia and Morocco. In fact some of the remarkable and inspiring people I met during my travels, used waste recycling as a springboard to escaping poverty.
In most developing economies, the informal sector is responsible for recycling the majority of plastic waste. However, this informal supply chain is very exploitative and dysfunctional. Change is needed from the top down. Improving livelihoods of waste pickers and extending waste collection to the two billion people who currently do not have access to this basic service is an urgent task for international development.
Recycling. Marrakech, Morocco
Visit the Earth Day website to discover how you can join the fight to end plastic pollution.