Plastic doesn’t disappear, and the excessive use of plastic bags is one of the glaring examples of harmful activities to the natural environment worldwide.
Plastic is produced by countries around the world by millions of tons, and Iran is no exception. Globally, Iran is ranked high in the production of plastic waste, and officials say the use of plastic in the country is on the rise.
To help raise awareness, the United Nations in Iran used the recent occasion of the global Ocean Conference to launch a joint campaign against the usage of single-use plastic. UN Iran, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and a UNDP partner, Hyperstar, ran a one-day awareness event in one of the Hyperstar branches in Tehran.
On July 1, thousands of cotton tote bags were distributed to customers doing their daily shopping, encouraging them to refrain from using plastic bags. The distributed bags contained information concerning marine pollution and its dangers to our natural environment. The campaign’s main messages were also printed on banners located at the venue, addressing the alarming increase of plastic waste in oceans and seas, and its potential impacts on our natural environment in the not too distant future.
The move was welcomed by customers and bypassers from all walks of life. Many of them expressed support for the campaign and appreciated using tote bags as an alternative to plastic ones. One costumer, Javad, who’s a salesman himself, said he always vouched for the replacement of plastic with eco-friendly material and took the initiative to promote the reduction of plastic waste.
The tote bags were created by Afghan refugees living in a settlement in Iran’s Fars province, and the campaign was a good opportunity for the refugees to generate income.
This initiative was launched in line with some of the core messages of the UN Ocean Conference held simultaneously in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. Namely, to boost collective efforts to effectively address the challenges that our oceans face, and to ensure the protection of the aquatic environments and their resources.
Over half the world’s population depend on oceans as their primary source of food. Yet plastics are the most abundant type of debris found in global waters. Plastic accounts for more than 80% of the world’s total marine waste. During a time when people across the world produce more than 300 million tonnes of plastic annually - an amount nearly equivalent to the weight of the human population - every step counts. Even if a single person reduces their daily use of plastic, if only one plastic bag is replaced with a cotton tote, it DOES contribute to a safer and more sustainable use of oceanic resources, and the planet earth itself.