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One year after the launch of #CleanSeas, the tide is turning

Do you feel uneasy when you buy a coffee in a takeaway plastic cup? Perhaps you feel awkward buying that bottle of water?

We hope so, because raising awareness of what plastic waste is doing to our oceans, our wildlife and ourselves is what UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign has been all about since its launch in February 2017.

We’ve given ourselves five years to build a global movement to tackle the excessive use of single-use plastics and get rid of dangerous microplastics in our toiletries and cosmetics.

The tide is already beginning to turn. Just over a year since the launch, 50 governments – accounting for more than half the world’s coastline – have signed up to the #CleanSeas campaign with many making specific commitments to protect oceans, encourage recycling and cut back on single-use plastics.

Across the world, individuals have been inspired by #CleanSeas to re-evaluate their use of plastic and they are now pushing their governments and the private sector to deliver bold pollution-beating policies.

Nearly 90,000 people have taken the #CleanSeas pledge to eradicate single-use plastics and microbeads from their lives. From Bali to Panama, they are cleaning beaches, cataloguing what they find, and changing their own behaviour by, for example, using cloth bags and carrying steel cups or cutlery with them, refusing plastic straws and demanding the removal of plastic cups or single-use bottles from their offices.

The scale of the problem demands a global response. Every year, around 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans, poisoning our fish, birds and other sea creatures. That’s the equivalent of one garbage truck of litter being dumped into the sea every minute. In April, a sperm whale was found dead on the southern coast of Spain and an autopsy revealed that it was killed by the 29 kilos of plastic found in its stomach. This, unfortunately, is not a unique case.

#CleanSeas first priority was to highlight the scale of the problem and the message has been heard loud and clear

July 1, 2019

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