UN's Plan To #BeatPlasticPollution Goes Viral

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Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that swept across the Internet in 2014? It raised a staggering $115 million for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research and has even been credited with funding an ALS breakthrough.

Now, meet the 2018 version: #BeatPlasticPollution.


The United Nations (UN) launched the campaign in time for World Environment Day – which is happening on June 5, put it in your diaries – with the aim of encouraging people to cut down their plastic consumption. The challenge: commit to eliminating one type of single-use plastic (although the more, the merrier) and replace it with a sustainable alternative. For example, you could switch your disposable coffee cups for a reusable substitute.

UN Environment asks participants to take a selfie or video holding the reusable alternative they are adopting and then share it on social media with the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution and a shout out to @UNEnvironment – and don’t forget to "tag" three friends. Alternatively, you could take a leaf out of Babe actor James Cromwell's book and select high-profile individuals and companies like EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, and Exxon Mobil.


Once tagged, they have 24 hours to complete the challenge.

Several famous faces have already gotten involved. 


Ex-Governor of California and environmental activist Arnold Schwarzenegger has already "terminated" plastic bags from his house so is pledging to eliminate the use of plastic spoons instead. (We're not really sure who uses plastic spoons at home but still, good for him!)


Remember Moby? The musician has promised to give up plastic water bottles. One million of these are used every single minute and by 2050, if current rates continue, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.


Ex-wizard Tom Felton is chucking the plastic straws. Half a billion of these "bad boys" are thrown away each day in the US alone. Instead, he will be switching to glass and bamboo alternatives.


Comedian Rachel Dratch mentions the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is 1.6 million square kilometers (620,000 square miles) big. Like Moby, she is committing to eliminating plastic bottles.


In conjunction with its campaign to "beat plastic pollution", UN Environment has published an interactive page on the global plastic pollution crisis. And be warned, it contains some horrific statistics, including the fact that 300 million tonnes (330 million tons) of plastic waste are produced every single year. To put that into perspective, that’s equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. Only 9 percent of all our plastic waste has been recycled so far. 

To find out more, check out the challenge page here


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