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What to do about global plastic pollution?

Posted on July 1, 2023, by Beth Blissman CoL

Families clean up trash on a beach, teaching children to care for Earth.
Photo by Ron Lach, Pexels

I’m not sure about you, but when I grew up in the 1960s there were not many single-use plastics in our everyday lives. To me it makes no sense whatsoever to make something that I’m going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever. It turns out that many other people (and even governments) feel the same.

Currently, United Nations member states are negotiating a global plastics treaty — a legally-enforceable international agreement to tackle plastic pollution throughout its life cycle, from design and production to disposal. They started the process in March 2022 during the fifth UN Environment Assembly and hope to finalize a global agreement by 2024.

The production of plastic, which has increased exponentially during my lifetime, has led to increased risks to human health, increased greenhouse gas emissions and danger of death through ingestion or entanglement for over 800 species of marine and coastal fish and wildlife species. There is growing recognition of the need to address these harms, so public support for this global treaty is widespread.

How might we contribute as the Loretto Community? We know that by working together and supporting this vital initiative, we can make significant progress in preserving our environment and ensuring a cleaner, more sustainable future.

Both as individuals and as a Community, this summer we can take on a new challenge: Plastic-Free July. Are you with me? It does not have to be a big deal — simply choose one single-use plastic item to stop using, and as you notice more and more opportunities for change, you will be on your way to going completely plastic free over time.

“Plastic bottle washed up on the river bank” by Ivan Radicis licensed under CC BY 2.0.

You can visit the Plastic-Free July website for inspiration: watch a brief video, gather ideas and read an in-depth report from the World Wildlife Fund.

Please join our Loretto at the UN summer interns, Caroline Mentel and Emma O’Connor, and me as we raise our awareness and reduce our use of single-use plastics.

If you want to delve more deeply into the history of plastic, visit this UK Science Museum link to learn more.


Beth Blissman CoL

Beth, a Loretto Co-member, is the Community’s UN NGO representative.
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