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Plastic pollution on a beach in Goa, India. Hajj0 ms / CC BY-SA 3.0

India turned their hosting of this year's World Environment Day into far more than a symbolic act when it announced plans Tuesday to eliminate all single-use plastics by 2022, UN Environment reported.

The theme of this year's World Environment Day was "Beat Plastic Pollution," and India's decision could be a "game-changing" part of that effort, since it is home to 1.3 billion people and is one of the world's fastest-growing economies, head of U.N. Environment news and media Keith Weller told CBS.

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Plastic bags pollute the Crocodile River in South Africa. JMK / GNU Free Documentation License

The theme for this year's World Environment Day, the world's largest environmental celebration which takes place June 5, is "Beat Plastic Pollution." In honor of the occasion, UN Environment released the first ever "state of plastics" report, tracking government action against plastic waste, a UN Environment press release reported.

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Cryptic Moth Productions Inc / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Today, on World Environment Day 2018, the United Nations' Environment Program is urging governments, industries, communities and individuals around the world to take on a daunting but necessary task: Beat Plastic Pollution.

"Plastic pollution has become an epidemic," the agency writes. "Every year, we throw away enough plastic to circle the Earth four times. Much of that waste doesn't make it into a landfill, but instead ends up in our oceans, where it's responsible for killing one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every year. For the good of the planet, it's time to rethink how we use plastic."

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A pilot whale died in southern Thailand last week after swallowing 17 pounds of plastic waste, despite a five-day effort to save the animal's life.

A necropsy revealed that the plastic debris, which included 80 plastic bags, clogged the whale's stomach, Reuters reported.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger pledges to terminate plastic spoons at home. @schwarzenegger / Twitter

In one of the coolest social media campaigns since the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the United Nations launched a global challenge to #BeatPlasticPollution, the theme of World Environment Day on June 5.

The movement encourages you to give up single-use plastics and replace them with reusable and sustainable alternatives. Participants are asked to announce their commitment on social media and tag their friends to help spread the message within 24 hours.

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Today is the United Nation's World Environment Day, which encourages worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. It began in 1972 and is widely celebrated in more than 100 countries.

This year's theme—connect people to nature—encourages people to go outside and "breathe in the beauty and remember that by keeping our planet healthy, we keep ourselves healthy too."

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