From The City To The Ocean; Earth Day 2021

April 22, annually, is known around the world as

Earth Day.

This year, Travel For Change is highlighting an often overlooked issue.

Every day, the urban city centres are bustling with people. People are out enjoying a coffee, a take-away meal, working, shopping, exploring.

There is one major theme that all cities have in common; their rubbish.

Many major cities have a plastic waste problem. Furthermore, general household waste, chemical and toxic industrial waste and waste from agricultural farms wash off into local waterways.

“Which cities have the worst waste problem also depends on how they dispose of it. Without the infrastructure to collect garbage, it’s dumped in rivers, canals and streets, and the result is unsanitary chaos”. - The Guardian 2016

The Problem With Single-Use Plastic

The average American produces the following pounds of trash every year:

  • 38 pounds of newspapers

  • 48 pounds of books

  • 25 pounds of office papers

  • 22 pounds of paper plates or cups

  • 28 pounds of aluminium beer and soda cans

  • 77 pounds of plastic bottles and jars

  • 90 pounds of tossed-out clothes and shoes

  • 77 pounds of cardboard boxes

And of course, there’s much more. Plus, it is not just America. On a worldwide scale, we produce 2.6 trillion pounds of trash per year.

According to the World Bank - “with rapid population growth and urbanization, annual waste generation is expected to increase by 70% from 2016 levels to 3.40 billion tonnes in 2050”.

There is a common misconception that plastic waste from our cities magically goes away, gets recycled, or simply disappears. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

The story of what happens to our waste and where it ends up is a complex one.

Unfortunately, much of the waste created in the city centre will make its way to the ocean.

Yes, that’s right; even if you live far away from the beach, your household waste could still be making it to the sea.

In low-income countries, over 90% of waste is often disposed of in unregulated dumps or openly burned. These practices create serious health, safety, and environmental consequences.