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  • HDT Team

2024 Earth Day: Planet Vs. Plastics

Updated: Apr 18

“Planet vs. Plastics” is the official theme for 2024 at’s 2024 call to action builds on their commitment to end plastics “for the sake of human and planetary health” demanding a 60% reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040.

The quick facts about plastic use and pollution are grim: 79% of plastic that has ever been made still sits in landfills or the natural environment (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated or recycled). One estimate is that 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been created since its invention. And think about how much you encounter every week: newly home from the store you may find yourself in a sea of it as you unpack your purchases. Our workplaces, our homes, and our vehicles all rely on plastic parts that make our modern lives what they are. 

For more fascinating facts about plastic, try’s quiz:

Big Organizations Take Big Actions

So if you weren’t already aware of the big picture, you can see now how plastic use is a big problem. The good news is there are big organizations paying attention to this too! While Happy Dancing Turtle does not specifically recommend one organization or advocacy action, here are some to investigate to find what matches your own goals and values.

  1. The United Nations, formed in 1945, is intended to be a place on Earth “where all the world’s nations can gather together, discuss common problems, and find shared solutions that benefit all of humanity.” You cannot get much “Big Picture” than that. One dimension of the UN’s work is sustainable development goals. And also their Climate Action Coalition.

  2. Sierra Club describes itself as “the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States.” Their recent action campaigns focus on pollution, fracking, environmental justice and species protection. 

  3. Beyond Plastics is another grassroots organization, this one focused on single-use plastic pollution. Their website and outreach efforts offer extensive education on the risks of plastic and through local member advocacy groups, they offer many different ways to take action.

  4. is the official home of Earth Day. But their tagline “It’s not a day, it’s a movement” lets you know there are things to do to help the Earth every day. Learn about their initiatives which include ending plastic pollution, conservation and restoration, climate and environmental literacy, food, and action on climate change. 

Individual Actions Are Important Too

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when looking at the enormity of the plastics problem. Even on an individual level, there are many frustrations. For example, many of us want to do the right thing by recycling. But when it comes to recycling plastics, there are many wrong things to watch out for–as we explored in this blog post earlier this year on how plastics do not recycle).

Since plastics are so hard to get rid of, a better strategy is to not acquire it in the first place. Again, this can feel overwhelming because plastic is everywhere. So focus even more specifically on one area. A great place to start is with single-use plastics such as take-out knives, forks, spoons and plastic bags. Consider keeping real silverware in your backpack or car’s glove compartment to keep you prepared to (nicely) refuse these things at restaurants and drive-thrus.

Another personal choice area that can have a big impact is bottled water. According to this fact sheet, Americans use 50 billion water bottles per year which averages out to 13 bottles per month per person. If you do not use that many–hooray! Every refusal makes you part of the solution. But there are more actions to take. One of my Sustainability Heros carries a coffee mug along with her reusable silverware.  That means she can drink tap water instead of bottled water. If there are hot beverages she’s also set–and avoids styrofoam cups. 

The best way to make single-use things like these obsolete is to stop using them and encourage your friends to do that too. Don’t be shy about setting an example. Eventually, the demand will drop. For more individual actions, check out this toolkit from If you think a friendly challenge might encourage behavior change, see the options available through Ecochallenge, who is celebrating Earth Month currently, but have challenges and actions you can take year-round.

Starting where you are is always the best strategy and starting today is a way to stop worrying and instead move forward. It’s worth it for our planet!


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