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7 Things You Can Do to Create a Plastic-Free Future

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Will Rose / Greenpeace

By Jen Fela

We're celebrating a huge moment in the global movement for a plastic-free future: More than one million people around the world have called on big corporations to do their part to end single-use plastics.

Now we're taking the next big step. We're setting an ambitious new goal: A Million Acts of Blue.


What's an Act of Blue?

An Act of Blue is any action that helps to stop single-use plastic from being created in the first place. It's inspired by love for our amazing blue planet and the urgent need to protect our oceans, waterways, landscapes and communities. It aims to hold corporations accountable for the plastic pollution crisis they helped to create.

Our marine life shouldn't have to live in a sea of plastic.

Ways to create change in your community.

We've created a comprehensive guide to creating change in your community with several kinds of actions you can take. These range from learning and sharing your passion for this issue to passing legislation in your city. Get started today to create a plastic-free future!

1. Learn, share and join

The first step towards action is knowledge. Are you a member of a community group that is eager to learn more about how they can protect our oceans and communities? Maybe your child's teacher is looking for ways to teach kids about environmental protection? Our toolkit has powerpoints and tips for giving a presentation—you can even host a movie night!

2. Be heard in the media

If you want to make change in your community, start with local media! Local newspapers, blogs and magazines are a great venue for getting the word out. In the toolkit, we walk you through how to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and how to get it published.

3. Help create plastic-free supermarkets and restaurants

Nowhere is the dominance of single-use plastics and wasteful packaging more obvious than at the local supermarket. Make waves in your community by working to get a local supermarket to reduce their use of single-use plastics.

4. Get restaurants to ditch single-use plastics

Fed up with all the plastic straws and utensils at fast food places and cafes? Join the growing movement urging establishments to get rid of throwaway plastic products.

5. Lobby for local legislation

All over the world, towns, cities and villages are standing up for a plastic-free future by implementing local bans and laws restricting the use of throwaway plastic. Be part of this movement by working with your neighbors to get your local government to do the same.

6. Organize a local cleanup and #BreakFreeFromPlastic brand audit

Everyone loves a cleanup event, so why not take it to the next level? Get your community together to clean up a local beach, park, or riverbank—but don't stop there. Go through the single-use plastics collected and identify which companies produced them. Let's hold corporations responsible for their plastic waste!

7. Start a community group!

You don't have to go it alone. We have a lot of work to do, and we'll get a lot further—and have more fun—together. Get some friends and neighbors together for a plastic-free future!

Greenpeace and MCS (Marine Conservation Society) Mull Beach Clean at Kilninian Beach with pupils from Ulver Primary School, Isle Of Mull. Greenpeace brought its ship the Beluga II on an expedition of scientific research around Scotland, sampling seawater for microplastics and documenting the impact of ocean plastic on some of the UK's most precious marine life.

Excited to get started? Check out the full Million Acts of Blue toolkit to find out more about how you can work in your own community to end single-use plastics.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.

Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.

Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.

SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0​

"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.

It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.

In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.

The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).

"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.

"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.

View of an Ivorian cleared forest at the edge of the 35.000 hectares Peko Mont National Park on Oct. 8, 2016. The Mont Péko National Park is located in the west of Ivory Coast where the forest officers fight with illegal immigrants to protect an exceptional flora and fauna, espacially dwarf elephants. SIA KAMBOU / AFP / Getty Images

Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.

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The Apusiaajik Glacier, as seen from Kulusuk village in East Greenland. Like most glaciers in Greenland, it's retreating rapidly, changing the local landscape year by year. Photo credit: Karin Kirk

By Karin Kirk

Greenland had quite the summer. It rose from peaceful obscurity to global headliner as ice melted so swiftly and massively that many were left grasping for adjectives. Then, Greenland's profile was further boosted, albeit not to its delight, when President Trump expressed interest in buying it, only to be summarily dismissed by the Danish prime minister.

During that time I happened to be in East Greenland, both as an observer of the stark effects of climate change and as a witness to local dialogue about presidential real estate aspirations, polar bear migrations and Greenland's sudden emergence as a trending topic.

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Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market. Cirou Frederic / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images

Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market, according to new research from the advocacy organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), which bills itself as an alliance of scientists, nonprofit organizations and donors trying to reduce exposures to neurotoxic chemicals during the first three years of development.

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Chicago skyline on July 22 as high winds continue to push the waters of Lake Michigan over the top of the pedestrian and bike trail along the lakefront in Chicago. Raymond Boyd / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

By Daniel Macfarlane

Every fall, I take my environmental studies class camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan. Some years the beach extends more than three meters to the water. This year, in many spots, there was no beach at all.

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Insects like bees, butterflies and even certain species of beetle and ant incidentally pollinate our crops when they collect protein-rich pollen and sugary nectar. Rolf Dietrich Brecher / CC BY 2.0

By Kerstin Palme

Creepy-crawlies are among the oldest life forms on this planet. Before dinosaurs ever walked the earth, insects were certainly already there. Some estimates date their origins to 400 million years ago. They're also extremely successful. Of the 7 to 8 million species documented on Earth, around three quarters are likely bugs.

But several insect species could disappear for good in the next few decades and that would have serious consequences for humans.

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Swedish automaker Volvo unveils its first electric vehicle the XC40 Recgarge EV, during an event in Los Angeles on Oct. 16. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP / Getty Images

Volvo introduced its first-ever all-electric vehicle this week, kicking off an ambitious plan to slash emissions and phase out solely gas-powered vehicles starting this year.

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Cars are queued in Turin, Italy in August. Particulate matter levels were the highest in Italy, Poland and the Balkans countries. Nicolò Campo / LightRocket / Getty Images

Air pollution in Europe led to more than 400,000 early deaths in 2016, according to the most recent air quality report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The report, released Wednesday, found that almost every European who lives in a city is exposed to unhealthy air, Reuters reported.

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