Earth Day 2024

As you may already know (or have guessed!), here at The Outdoors Group we are passionate about looking after the planet, in any way we can. It’s in our purpose statement, it’s one of our values, and it’s something that we remain committed to playing our part in – in real tangible ways, not just with words and empty platitudes.  So of course, we couldn’t let Earth Day go past unmarked.

We’ve written copiously in the past (here, here, here, and… here!) about why we care so much about looking after the world around us and how we try and instil this same love and respect for the natural spaces we inhabit in the young people we work with. So this time, instead, we thought we’d take a look at this year’s theme and some ways that we can get involved or make sustainable changes in our daily lives.

Planet vs Plastics

This year, the theme of Earth Day is Planet vs Plastics. The organisers are joining with groups from all walks of life and from all across the globe to call for an end of plastics, specifically outlining a goal of a 60% reduction in the production of plastics by 2040. This is a health issue as much as it is a climate change issue as Kathleen Rogers, President of EARTHDAY.ORG explains “The word environment means what surrounds you. In the case of plastics we have become the product itself – it flows through our blood stream, adheres to our internal organs, and carries with it heavy metals known to cause cancer and disease. Now this once-thought amazing and useful product has become something else, and our health and that of all other living creatures hangs in the balance. The Planet vs. Plastics campaign is a call to arms, a demand that we act now to end the scourge of plastics and safeguard the health of every living being upon our planet.”  

According to Earth Day, more plastic has been produced in the last ten years than in the entire 20th century and this production doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of slowing down. Plastics are found in everything from food products and packaging to fast fashion to items that we use in our daily lives, often those that are disposable or with a very short life span. You can find plenty of information in the ‘Earth Hub’ section of the Earth Day website but there is research linking chemicals in plastics to cancer, insulin resistance, endocrine problems, fertility and childhood brain development. And this is all before we start to think about how the use of plastics contributes to the climate crisis we find ourselves in.

So what can we do?

It’s easy in the face of such numbers and facts, to feel like you just want to crawl into a hole! When you look at the global scope of the problem, it can seem hard to get an idea of how anything you could do could possibly make a difference in the big picture. However, the folk at Earth Day has given us three very clear things that we can do this year to play our part.

  1. The first thing you can do (which takes literally seconds) is to sign the Global Plastics Treaty petition, demanding this aforementioned 60% drop in plastic production, by 2040.
  2. Reject fast fashion. Stop buying cheap clothes from companies that are not being ethical in their manufacturing and distribution processes. Instead buy second-hand clothes or buy from companies that put their money where their mouth it when it comes to environmental practices.
  3. Take the #PlasticDetox challenge, in which you look at what small swaps you could make to your daily life and share it with others, hoping to create ripples that turn into unstoppable waves of change.

We asked some colleagues for examples of ‘Sustainable Swaps’ that they’ve made to reduce the amount of plastic they’re using and thought we’d share them here to get the ball rolling with inspiring each other on how we can start to rid our lives of plastic…

  • Hannah gets her veg delivered from a local organic farm, just a few miles up the road from her (reducing food miles as well as plastic use and eating seasonable veg)
  • Kate found bamboo lids that perfectly fit a couple of GU glass pudding ramekins that were sitting unused in her cupboards. Now, they have a new lease on life without having to add to recycling, they can be used for snacks on the go and storing various items at home. Find them here: Pudding Pot Lids. She has also started making cleaning products for her home using recipes from Clean & Green and The Green Budget Guide by Nancy Birtwhistle.  
  • Charlotte switched from bottles of liquid hand soap to soap bars. Changed to re-usable silicone food bags for packed lunches as well as using large 5 ltr refills of washing up liquid and fabric softener in another attempt at reducing the amount of plastic waste generated.  
  • Liz also swapped the bottled hand soap for bars and made bees wax coated cloth wraps, excellent for packed lunches.  See hints and tips on their use HERE.  She also switched to milk sources locally opting to use reusable glass bottles instead of plastic. 
  • Sam buys clothes that are (as much as possible) made out of natural fibres like cotton and wool, rather than synthetic fibres, and second hand as much as possible. 

Why bother?

This is a bit of a no brainer right. Why do we care so much? Why are we going to all this effort to try and make changes and a difference? Because it is essential to the survival of all living beings on earth. Because we want to leave our children, grandchildren and future generations a world in which they can thrive and have long, happy, productive lives. Because it is the right thing to do.

Author: Hannah Durdin, Content Officer & Forest School Leader

Date: Monday 22nd April, 2024

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