News — April 28, 2018

Trash Hunt for Earth Day

On April 22, the world is celebrated Earth Day—the annual day when millions of people around the world take a moment to think about our planet and the huge environmental challenges we face. This year, Earth Day was dedicated to plastic pollution, primarily supporting the global efforts to eliminate single-use plastics. JCI, together with World Cleanup Day, TrashOut and many other organizations globally, are continuing to contribute to the cause by inviting people to go trash hunting using the World Cleanup Day app so we can map our waste, making waste pollution visible.

Days like Earth Day and World Cleanup Day are necessary to remind us that our planet is facing some of the greatest challenges in human history that we have caused. From the beginning of plastic production in the 1950s, we have produced around 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic—equivalent to the size of 1400 Giza pyramids and the weight of more than 1 billion elephants. The fact that only 9% of this vast quantity has been recycled and 12% has been incinerated is a huge cause for concern. The rest is still out there—in landfills and in nature. More than 8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans every year. If this continues, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by year 2025. It’s time for change. We each can bring about this change by taking action! 

Waste mapping, with its broad accessibility to anyone with a smart phone, is an excellent opportunity to gather data and visualize the current state of waste pollution globally. During the Waste Mapping Challenge that launched on Earth Day, we are inviting people to download the World Cleanup Day app and go outside to map out trash. When you find trash, take a picture, describe the trash pile or dumpsite, post it in the app and you're done! 

The data will then be visualized on an open source map, providing immense value to the organizers for planning their cleanup day activities, local governments to improve their waste management systems and for experts to analyze where the waste comes from.

Although plastic pollution is an issue we can and must address every day of the year, Earth Day gave us the opportunity to focus on the extent of the problem and consider more possible solutions for this global issue. The more we talk about the environmental problems we are facing; the more awareness increases around the globe. The world has celebrated Earth Day for almost 50 years, gaining approximately 1 billion participants throughout that time, making Earth Day one of the largest civic-focused days of action in the world.

Like Earth Day, World Cleanup Day is ready to make an impact that is just as significant by mobilizing people in 150 countries to stand up against our global trash problem and clean up waste to achieve our shared goal—creating a clean and healthy planet. We encourage you to take action now by downloading the World Cleanup Day app and joining the #JCITrashHunters Waste Mapping Challenge, which is a 10-week challenge making the world a cleaner and better place. 

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for World Cleanup Day on 15 September 2018 and join us as we clean up the World. 

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