Indian youth help turn the tide against plastic

(Image source: UNEP)

New Delhi (NVI): Tide Turners educates young people about single-use plastics, encouraging them to alter their attitude towards plastic consumption and spark behavioral change in their communities, primatologist Jane Goodall said while addressing a virtual crowd of young change-makers from India.

The Tide Turner Plastic Challenge is United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) global initiative to engage youth across India for addressing the issue of plastic pollution, which threatens life in oceans, rivers and on land.

On June 30, the first phase of the challenge in India saw the participation of nearly 1,27,000 youth from all corners of the country.

Jane Goodall, the UN Messenger of Peace said, “Every individual matters and makes a difference every single day, but it is up to you to choose the kind of difference you wish to make.”

With increasing use of single-use plastic in this era of COVID -19 pandemic this programme assumed even greater significance. The initiative also enjoyed strong support of the Government of India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC).

According to India’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), around 26,000 tonnes of plastic is generated per day in India, 10,000 of which is uncollected. But for the thousands of young people who have completed the challenge, there is hope for a better future.

All participants had to undertake multiple levels of challenges. First, they had to audit their plastic footprint and take action to reduce it. At the next leader level, they were expected to influence and mobilize their institutions and communities for accelerated collaborative action.

At the final championship level, they were expected to initiate dialogues with authorities in schools, colleges, corporations and businesses and advocate practices to mitigate plastic pollution through embracing policies to reduce the use of disposable plastic on their premises.

In all, more than 1,700 youth qualified for the championship badge.

The Youth Summit was marked by the presence of special guests – from celebrity changemakers, to badge-holders from Kenya, Uganda, and Ghana – who shared their passion for the environment.

Actress and model Dia Mirza spoke about using her platforms to share messages about the environment with different audiences.

In India, Tide Turners is led by UNEP, with support from implementing partners: World Wide Fund for Nature India (WWF India), Centre for Environment Education (CEE), and the Million Sparks Foundation.

Since June 2019, 1,70,000 young people have participated in the Tide Turners challenge, earning badges made entirely from recycled plastic. The initiative operates in twenty-three countries in Africa and Asia.

-CHK