Earth Day 2024 highlights the dangers of the ever-growing plastic pollution problem (Credit:

Celebrated every April 22, Earth Day is an annual reminder of the urgent need to protect our planet. The global movement began on April 22, 1970, when US lawmaker Gaylord Nelson mobilized more than 20 million people to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

Earth Day Network (EDN) now boasts more than 50,000 partners in over 190 countries. It has led to the passage of landmark environmental laws. These include the Clean Water Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 in the US and the 2015 Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change.

The theme for Earth Day 2024 is Planet vs. Plastics. It highlights the fact that over 380 million tons of plastic are produced annually, an astounding 50 percent of which is for single-use purposes. The nonprofit is demanding a 60 percent reduction in the production of plastics by 2040.

EDN wants a 60 percent reduction in plastic production by 2040 (Credit:

EDN has outlined four ways to achieve this lofty goal. The first is to raise public awareness of the health risks of plastic pollution. It has been linked to everything from cancer in humans to deaths in marine wildlife. The second entails persuading countries worldwide to commit to phasing out all single-use plastics by 2030. EDN also aims to urge governments to implement policies to end fast fashion, another major contributor to plastic pollution. Lastly, they want corporations to invest in innovative technologies to create sustainable materials to substitute plastic.

“Our reliance on plastics could be the biggest gamble in the story of human health in history. We are all ingesting and inhaling microplastics. They are everywhere. Are we just hoping they are safe or is even the remotest possibility they might be toxic so terrifying that we can’t contemplate it?” says Kathleen Rogers, president of

Fast fashion is one of the biggest creators of plastic pollution (Credit:

Even if governments agree, the laws on plastic regulation will take some time to go into effect. Meanwhile, companies can take immediate action to reduce their plastic footprint with minor changes. For example, clothing manufacturers can choose natural or recycled fabrics. Restaurants can deliver food in compostable paper containers.

Individuals of all ages can also make a big difference. Avoid single-use plastic spoons and forks by keeping a reusable cutlery set in your backpack or car. Carry a container for leftovers when you go to a restaurant. Take a reusable water bottle and lunch bag to school. These simple actions will go a long way toward saving our planet.

Happy Earth Day!