Every year, June 5 marks World Environment Day (WED), also known as Eco Day. It was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 following the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. The conference also led to the creation of the UN Environment Program (UNEP) with the aim of assisting developing countries to implement environmentally sound policies and practices.
In 1987, the UN decided to mark WED by holding a unique event in a different country each year. India is hosting the 2018 initiative, which aims to raise greater public awareness about plastic pollution. People around the world, including many Iranians, have joined this year’s “#BeatPlasticPollution” campaign on social media.
On Twitter, @UN_Iran urged people to “Carry reusable flasks instead of disposable plastic bottles.”
@IRANANIMALRIGHTS (Iran Animal Rights) tweeted: “This year’s theme of reducing plastic pollution is great. But mere slogans will not save us. We need to take action. Every single one of us should start using cloth shopping bags, flasks, and ceramic mugs.”
Many Iranians have created the equivalent of “#BeatPlasticPollution” in Farsi on Twitter. The tweets urge people to reduce their daily use of plastic products. Some people have shared alarming data about plastic pollution on Twitter.
@gitashenasi (The Geographic and Cartography Institute) tweeted: “We are producing one million bottled water every minute in the world. We use 500 billion plastic bags every year. Nearly 50 percent of plastic products are single-use bags and bottles. We should all unite in our efforts to reduce plastic pollution.”
Gitashenasi.com posted the list of top 10 items that pollute our oceans:
- Cigarettes 2,117,931
- Plastic wrappings 1,140,222
- Plastic bottles 1,065,171
- Plastic bags 1,019,902
- Bottle caps 958,892
- Plastic dishes and cutlery 792,767
- Plastic straws 611,048
- Glass bottles 521,730
- Aluminium Cans 339,875
- Paper bags 298,332
Veterinarians in the southern province of Songkhla in Thailand tried desperately for five days to save the life of a pilot whale that was stranded in a canal by the Malaysian border. Despite coughing up five plastic bags, the whale died on June 1, just days before World Ocean Day. The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources’ autopsy found 80 plastic bags, weighing 17 pounds, inside the whale’s stomach.
The first plastic manufacturing plant began operation in Iran in 1958.
The country currently produces 248,000 tonnes of plastic every year. It is the tenth largest consumer of plastic products in the world. There has been a sharp increase in the volume of plastic waste in Iranian cities and in the countryside. Highways, woodlands, and the entire Caspian coast are littered with plastic bottles, trash bags, cups and food containers.
Mohammad Darvish, a member of the science committee of the Research Institute for Forests and Rangelands, said: “There are no laws in Iran regulating the production and use of plastic products. We must urge people to reduce their use of plastic items. We must convert plastic into an environment-friendly material.”
He added: “The government must invest in developing biodegradable plastic. It should also offer an incentive to manufacturers to reduce their plastic waste.”
@Fa_Shayesteh tweeted a video clip showing clean-up efforts in coastal waters. She wrote: “Dear beach-goers, please don’t throw your trash in the water.”
@FarhadianSara tweeted a map showing the amount of plastic waste produced and mismanaged around the world. She wrote: “The map shows the main producers of plastic goods. The red segments designate mismanaged plastic trash. The data show a sharp increase in production of plastic goods – from 1.5 million tonnes in 1950 to 300 million in 2014.”
@gollab tweeted photographs of a canvas shopping bag and wrote: “It is not that difficult to sew one of these bags and say no to plastic.”
@mahdiebrahimi also tweeted a photograph of a cloth bag with the caption “Let’s be Kind To Nature. We support #BeatPlasticPollution.”
@MoslemBarakzaei tweeted pictures of straw baskets and wrote: “Protect the environment and support your local artisan by buying a straw shopping basket. Keep it in your car and use it instead of plastic bags.”
The primary toxic components of plastic products are ethylene oxide, the flammable hydrocarbon, and benzene. Plastic breaks down into toxic compounds which contaminate and pollute the environment, including synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon polymer, Bisphenol A, and styrene trimers. Many of these compounds directly impact the hormone levels in people.
Ultimately, the governments of the world must regulate the production and use of plastic products. The European Union plans to reduce the production and consumption of plastic dishes, cutlery, cups, and straws.