top of page

A Note from our Chapter Chair
Plastics vs. Planet

Susan Eastwood

March 2024

unnamed.png

Every day is Earth Day! But especially in April! Join the fun and celebrate the beautiful Connecticut outdoors! Sierra Club Connecticut will be tabling at many Earth Day celebrations. Be sure to check our Events and Outings page to see what’s happening near you.

On April 19, join Sierra Club Connecticut and Nonprofit Accountability Group for an Earth Day Litter Clean Up On Capitol Ave. Our clean up will start at the Connecticut Legislative Office Building and proceed up Capitol Avenue. We'll stop at the Capitol Area System and share information about the history of this polluting facility and the current opportunity to convert it to 100% clean and renewable energy. 

Another informative event will be held on April 9 in New Britain, Pesticides in Connecticut- Protecting our Birds and Bees. The program will focus on the dangers the pesticide Neonicotinoids pose to both human health and our wildlife. You’ll hear from our friends at the Connecticut Audubon Society, Louise Washer from Pollinator Pathways, and Ann Gadwah from Sierra Club.

On every Wednesday through May 8, you can sign up to join Sierra Club and our climate coalition allies "on the ropes" at the Capitol to advocate with legislators for good climate policy! When a legislator sees a constituent come into Hartford to speak with them, it can make a big impression! In these last few weeks of the legislative session, your voice in support of good environmental policy can make a real difference!

The theme for this year’s Earth Day is “Plastics versus Planet.”

Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the amount of plastic in our lives. When we set our goal to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we must realize that we are completely surrounded by plastic products made from fossil fuels. And less than 5% is currently being recycled. Global plastic production has gone from 2.2 million tons per year in 1950 to 460 million tons per year by 2019. It is estimated to reach 1.5 billion tons per year by 2050! The oil and gas industries plan to ramp up plastic production as demand for fossil fuel energy declines, in order to protect their profits.

Plastics are damaging to our planet at every stage of its life cycle, from extraction, to product manufacture, to disposal as waste. This pollution has serious impacts on public health, through air and water pollution and when people are directly exposed during use of the product. Other impacts include increased greenhouse gas emissions and the high costs of clean up and healthcare.

 

Thousands of chemicals are used in manufacturing plastics to give it different properties. Many are known to be toxic, most are unstudied. When end-of-life plastics are burned or landfilled, they release these toxic chemicals into the air and water. Communities of color or low-income tend to be disproportionately impacted because these facilities are most often located in distressed areas.  

As more and more plastic is produced and used, often for a single use, there is an increase in plastic waste. Without slowing the amount we produce, we will literally be overwhelmed with plastic waste and pollution. Currently, 12 million tons per year of plastic waste enters our oceans. Marine life may become entangled in larger pieces or may ingest tiny microplastics that then travel up the food chain to humans.

I was thrilled to see Plastics vs. Planet as the theme for Earth Day 2024 because it will bring attention to this most serious environmental and health problem and to a possible solution. The timing is perfect because, right now, there is an international effort to agree on a Plastics Treaty to manage and reduce plastics.

Faced with this growing problem and new evidence that plastics actually cause disease and premature death, the United Nations Environmental Assembly acted. In 2022, 175 countries agreed to negotiate an international plastics treaty to end plastic pollution, with the text to be completed by the end of 2024. 

The treaty must address many issues from each stage of the life cycle including reducing emissions and pollution from extraction and production, reducing the amount of plastics being produced, especially single-use and packaging, regulating hazardous chemicals used in manufacturing, improving recycling, and protecting human health, wildlife and the environment, and waste colonialism”.

A draft of the Treaty has been released and will be debated and, hopefully, voted on this month. Stay tuned for news from the negotiations in Ottawa, Canada, beginning on Earth Day, April 22. Because it really is...

PLASTIC VS. PLANET.

Happy Earth day!

Susan


 

Susan Eastwood is Chapter Chair of Sierra Club Connecticut.

bottom of page