State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

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This Earth Day, Choose the Planet Over Plastics

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, the Climate School has a variety of great events and stories lined up throughout the entire month of April. Find out more here

Since 1970, every April 22 has served as a salient reminder of the urgent need for greater environmental awareness and climate action. This year’s Earth Day—with the theme of Planet vs. Plastics—is no different, setting a lofty goal of ending plastic consumption and demanding a 60% reduction in all plastics production by 2040.

Currently, we generate about 400 million metric tons of plastic waste every year worldwide —roughly the collective weight of the human population—according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Nearly 36% of this plastic is used in packaging, including single-use products for food and beverage containers, and about 85% ends up in landfills.

And these alarming numbers continue to grow, with production predicted to reach a staggering 1,100 million metric tons by 2050, absent any sort of intervention.

Photo: NOAA’s National Ocean Service

At State of the Planet, we’ve spent years covering the fight against plastic pollution and the search for solutions to safeguard a healthier and more sustainable future. Take a look at some of our stories below and keep reading State of the Planet for ongoing coverage this Earth Month and year-round.

  • How Do We Clean Up All That Ocean Plastic?: With the growing number of plastics polluting our oceans, many organizations are attempting to clean up the water, but solving this problem will also require big changes on land.
  • The Truth About Bioplastics: While considered more eco-friendly than traditional plastic, bioplastics still have considerable negative impact on the environment.

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Raven Wilson
Raven Wilson
18 days ago

I am an artist and I love reusing the “throwaway” plastics for my art projects. I have three sons and I have taught everyone of them since they were little about the importance of Earth Day. This is a big event for us and I am proud to be a person who tries to make a difference in the world.