Every year, 10 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean, polluting the water and killing marine life. That same plastic also pollutes pristine beaches and overflows landfills around the world. It’s a global crisis we urgently need to address. As World Cleanup Day is celebrated worldwide on September 18, the World Sustainability Organization is eager to join this movement promoting sustainable practices to keep our planet clean.
It’s a staggering figure: at least one million marine animals are killed every year because of plastic pollution. From whales to dolphins, from sea turtles to fish, no species is left unscathed by this human-created garbage crisis. Our waste footprint has dramatically increased over the past decades, becoming unsustainable for the entire ecosystem.
In recent years, the image of beautiful landscapes covered in rubbish has moved individuals and organizations to organize cleanup activities. The first World Cleanup Day was held in September 2018, engaging 17.6 million people in 157 countries. Since then, the movement has continued to grow.
For this year’s World Cleanup Day, the World Sustainability Organization joins the movement by encouraging people to adopt sustainable practices that contribute to keeping our planet cleaner. In addition, the organization has created new certifications to address this issue, such as the Sustainable Beach and Tourism standards.
A sea of waste.
The world produces more than 350 million tons of plastic every year. Around 50 percent of it is for single-use purposes. Even though plastic has many valuable, life-saving uses, the amount of plastic waste generated has become a problem with severe environmental consequences.
The ocean is one of the most affected ecosystems by plastic pollution. Research shows that:
- More than 30% of the plastic packaging we produce annually ends up in the ocean.
- Rivers are significant contributors as they carry plastic pollution from the inland to the beaches and the ocean.
- Plastics are eroded over time, turning into small fragments. These micro-plastics can be found on most beaches around the world.
If current trends continue, oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050.
Make World Cleanup Day every day.
While sea pollution has been widely documented, there’s a growing concern about the situation of beaches and coastal areas and the impact of unsustainable tourism.
The World Sustainability Organization developed two specific certification standards to address this issue: the Friend of the Sea Sustainable Beach and Sustainable Tourism labels. The goal is to engage all the actors concerned to enforce sustainable practices, from companies and operators, to tourists and beachgoers.
Beaches are part of the marine environment; protecting them is crucial. The Sustainable Beach certification aims to reduce the impact of unsustainable tourism on the seaboard and marine wildlife. To achieve this certification, operators must comply with strict requirements including environmental awareness, proper waste disposal, ban of single-use plastics, water quality, and respect for the natural ecosystem.
The Sustainable Tourism certification is awarded to activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and marine life watching tours. Likewise, the presence of single-use plastics is banned to prevent polluting the ocean.
“Every day should be World Cleanup day. By keeping the ocean and beaches free of waste pollution, we’re helping preserve the entire ecosystem. The intention behind these labels is to encourage people to adopt more sustainable attitudes,” said Paolo Bray, Founder and Director of the World Sustainability Organization.
The famous beaches of Noto in Sicily were the first to earn the Sustainable Beach certifications. Equally, tour operators in New Zealand, Egypt, Mexico, and the Maldives have achieved the Sustainable Tourism label since its launching.
On this September 18, join us in the effort to make the world a cleaner and more sustainable place to live.
Go to the Friend of the Sea website for more information about the Sustainable Beach and Sustainable Tourism certifications: https://friendofthesea.org/.