The first week of June brings the opportunity for people around the world to reflect on the importance of preserving the environment and oceans. With World Environment Day taking place on 5th June and World Oceans Day taking place on 8th June, there is no better time to show support for the beauty of the environment, the freshness of the oceans and the significance of the world’s nature.
Healthy oceans are critical to a healthy planet and healthy people, which is why it is imperative to help keep the environment and oceans clean. Today, the main source of marine plastic is improperly managed waste. This is caused by a variety of issues, including landfills that fail to keep waste stored within manageable limits. Many poorly managed landfills overflow directly into waterways and oceans, causing fundamental issues for the environment.
According to EarthDay, it is estimated that 40% of the world’s waste ends up in uncontrolled dump sites, causing excessive waste to overflow directly into oceans. This growing problem of mismanaged waste means that by 2025, dumpsites and landfills will contribute to 8-10% of global greenhouse emissions and by 2050, marine plastic will outweigh the number of fish in the sea. As awareness increases globally, the Middle East is taking important and impactful steps to help improve sustainable development across the region, such as increasing green areas, developing water resources, and improving marine environment and protecting it from pollution.
Marine wildlife in the Middle East is particularly lush: green turtles, humpback dolphins, sea snakes and dugongs are all found in the Gulf waters, we have to protect them and their ecosystem. For World Oceans Day 2020 and aligned with the UN Global Goal number 14 for sustainable development, Veolia Middle East has launched an art contest for young people around the theme of “I preserve the Gulf marine wildlife”. Participants can send in their drawings until 8th June via Instagram by tagging @Veoliamiddleeast or by sending it to @Veoliamiddleeast via direct message. Every young person can participate, and winners will have their drawing honoured on Veolia’s social media channels.
A global leader in optimised resource management, Veolia Middle East works across the whole spectrum of environmental services, implementing innovative solutions that will have a positive and long-lasting impact on the environment and resources. Veolia Middle East plays an active role in raising awareness among current and future generations.
With a goal to build a better 21st century, Sébastien Chauvin, CEO of Veolia Middle East shares five steps, to help preserve the planet for World Environment Day and World Oceans Day.
Take part in a beach clean up
A beach cleanup is a great step toward helping marine life. It is a volunteer activity for individuals and takes place regularly along coastlines around the world. There are several organisations across the region that run programmes in the cooler months, to help make beaches a cleaner and safer place for everyone. Taking part in beach clean ups helps to improve the coastal and ocean ecosystem by making sure that none of the waste kills marine life or is toxic enough to disrupt the marine cycle.
Cut down on plastic
The mass production of plastic started decades ago and in recent years, it has accelerated so rapidly that it has created 8.3 billion metric tons and 91% of that is not recycled – most of it ends up in landfills and oceans. This is a huge problem for the planet as plastic can take up to 1000 years to degrade, therefore, a lot of the world’s plastic still exists in some form and only 12% has been incinerated. To help reduce the use of plastic, try adopting these simple lifestyle changes:
· Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
· Always use a reusable bag when you go shopping, like a cloth tote shopper. Remember, a single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade.
· Prepare lunches in reusable containers, like glass Tupperware, and always choose fresh fruits and veggies. Opting to buy bulk goods is a great way to cut back on unwanted cardboard, tin and plastic packages.
· Carry a reusable bottle or mug for beverages on the go and at work
· Switch to a bamboo toothbrush. Not only does a bamboo toothbrush eliminate unnecessary waste but it also ensures the same quality of cleaning that a plastic brush offers.
Cut back on fish
Commercial fishing practices are overfishing to keep up with demands, resulting in populations too depleted to fully recover, which contributes to the global climate crisis. Commercial fishing uses a variety of methods to catch fish, including trawling, gillnets and longlines, which end up catching more than the targeted species, like sharks, whales, dolphins, turtles, and other endangered fish. The unwanted, injured catch is then discarded back into the sea, putting further strain on species.
This high demand for seafood is driving some species towards extinction and causing the entire ecosystem to suffer. To help protect oceans and marine life, eliminate fish from diets or refrain from eating fish daily. The food system is also responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Making simple changes to eating habits, like avoiding fish or meat, can have a huge impact on carbon footprint.
Although 71% of the Earth is covered in water, only 3% of the Earth’s water is freshwater and just 0.5% is suitable for drinking. With rapid growing population rates and such a small percentage of the Earth’s water suitable for drinking, it is fundamental to preserve and conserve water as much as possible. Preserving water minimises the effects of drought and water shortages, helps preserve the environment, ensures water is available for recreational purposes and builds safe communities. There are various simple tips that can be practiced at home to help preserve water, including taking shorter showers, installing water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors, turning off the water whilst brushing teeth, using dishwashers and washing machines for only full loads and checking pipes and faucet for leaks.
Give composting a try
There are lots of good reasons to compost. It saves money, saves resources and improves soil. Composting is also extremely good for the environment as it does not rely on factory-made fertilisers and other nasty chemicals. Composting at home is a great source of recycling too, as it keeps as much as 30% of waste from going into the bin. From diverting household waste, this naturally decreases the need for plastic bin bags.
Helping create a sustainable Earth is important to every person on the planet. By adopting green lifestyle changes to daily routines, a sustainable and safer planet will be created for future generations to come, ensuring a brighter and cleaner future for all.
For even more green tips and to participate in the drawing contest, follow Veolia Middle East on Instagram @VeoliaMiddleEast.