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Earth Day 2024: Action Against Plastic Pollution

Earth Day stands as the largest environmental movement worldwide, spurring individuals, communities, businesses, and governments to take concrete actions and find solutions to address climate challenges. 

On April 22 every year,  people unite under a common theme to tackle the most pressing environmental issues. In 2024, the campaign is focused on “Planet vs. Plastics.”


The Case Against Plastics: Why It Matters

Plastics, especially single-use plastics, pose a dire threat to environmental health and human well-being. The rationale for this year’s theme is backed by several urgent needs:

  • Global Awareness: Increasing awareness about the extensive damage caused by plastics to wildlife, ecosystems, and human health.
  • Eliminating Single-Use Plastics: Advocating for a global phase-out of single-use plastics by 2030 to curb pollution and encourage recycling efforts.
  • Policy Changes in Fashion Industry: Promoting regulations that aim to reduce ‘fast fashion’, a major contributor to plastic waste due to its reliance on synthetic fibres.

Startling Statistics and Dire Consequences

According to the United Nations, the world produces over 430 million tonnes of plastic each year, two-thirds of which are designed for single-use purposes. Shockingly, only 15% of this plastic waste is recycled. When plastics break down, they don’t just disappear; they turn into microplastics. These tiny particles are now ubiquitous, contaminating everything from the soil we farm to the water we drink and even permeating human bodies through consumption and absorption.

In addition to pollutants, plastic is also a big contributor to global carbon emissions and climate change. The production of plastics starts with the extraction of raw materials, primarily crude oil and natural gas, which are carbon-intensive processes. These materials undergo various refining and manufacturing processes that emit a substantial amount of CO2. Making plastics is also energy-intensive, with much of it coming from the burning of fossil fuels.  Once manufactured, they need to be transported to various distribution centres and then to final consumers. This transportation relies mostly on diesel-powered trucks and ships, which emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. 

Add to the mix the fact that plastics take years to decompose and you quickly realise that the world has a big, environmental problem on its hands. 

How do we solve this?


A Call to Arms from Earth Day Network

Spurred on by this threat,  Earth Day 2024, led by the Earth Day Network, is calling for a 60% cut in global plastic production by 2060 and collective action from all sectors of society, including a major push from both the private and public sectors.

The “Planet vs. Plastics” campaign has also become a rallying cry for us to reimagine our use and disposal of plastics, to innovate alternative materials, and to implement comprehensive recycling programs.


The Path Forward – Fintechs Unite!

As citizens of this Earth, it is our responsibility to respond to this call with decisive action and forward-thinking policies, ensuring a healthier planet for future generations.

It’s also a day to reflect on how fintech is playing a big part in reducing the amount of plastic in the world, and creating a brighter and more sustainable environment. 


So far, Fintech is doing a good job

Thanks to the digital revolution, there’s been a major drop in plastic usage and significant reduction in the size of the carbon footprint for financial services. 

By promoting digital transactions and phasing out physical forms of money, fintech has minimised the need for plastic cards and paper, leading to a significant cut in plastic waste.

Innovations like electronic receipts and digital banking apps are also replacing traditional, paper-based systems with digital solutions, conserving resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with production and transportation. 

Additionally, a growing number of  fintech platforms are facilitating  investments in green projects and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy by improving access to renewable energy funding and carbon credits trading. Through these actions, fintech is not only streamlining financial services but also promoting more sustainable environmental practices.


Conclusion

One Earth Day 2024 let us all commit to this vital cause. Whether as individuals, communities, corporations, or governments, we have the power to effect change and mitigate the impacts of plastic pollution. 

By embracing the challenge presented by this year’s theme, we can take meaningful steps toward a sustainable and thriving planet. 

There’s only one Earth. Let’s do all that we can to keep it healthy and strong for the wellbeing of us all.