World Environment Day: Giving back to our silent heroes

Climate change is a global challenge that poses an urgent threat to economies, global food security, our natural systems and individual livelihoods. Unfortunately, as the years have gone by, our negligence towards the earth has become more prominent, and communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts like tsunamis, veld fires and hurricanes. Our environment does not have much more time until these effects become irreversible.

The World Environment Day 2020’s theme is ‘Celebrate Biodiversity ‘, which is hugely relevant because human beings are part of the ecosystem and will not be able to survive in isolation. Biodiversity is vital for the survival of all living things big and small, on land, or in water.

Many of our planet’s natural resources are increasingly under pressure from over- or poorly managed consumption. The global population is increasing with a growing middle-class and associated complexity in consumption with the change in the standard of living.

More than ever, it’s clear we need to change our behaviour and transition to sustainable consumption driven by a circular economy. Transitioning to a circular economy is not only vital to the preservation and protection of our planet’s natural resources, but also the success of businesses.

Right now, the goods we use every day are manufactured from raw materials, sold, used and then discarded as waste. Long term this is not sustainable. A “circular economy” is the answer to preserving and making the most of our natural resources. Applying the principles of a circular economy will allow us to optimize the use and reuse of resources and ultimately reduce/ eliminate the amount of waste that goes into landfills.

As Dow, we are working to advance a circular economy where we redesign, recycle, reuse and remanufacture to keep materials at their highest value. The recovery or collection of plastic waste, therefore, forms an essential part of making this possible and waste collectors play a vital role in their communities by removing waste and keeping plastic and other materials out of the environment. These unsung heroes have, for many years, assisted in maintaining a healthy environment for all forms of life on earth and reducing the amount of waste to landfills. As we continue to promote a circular economy, it is also our job as Dow and citizens of planet earth to recognise those that maintain the health of our environment

Waste collectors form part of the informal sector and have been hugely impacted by COVID-19 pandemic as they do not have the means and resources to maintain their livelihood in places where they have not been able to work or the means to adequately protect themselves from the virus in the places where they have.

Dow has therefore partnered with the GlobalGiving organisation on a fund dedicated to assisting the lives of waste collectors as they assist us in preserving our planet. Through this fund, GlobalGiving is connecting to individuals, donors and companies around the globe to help local non-profits access the funding and support they will need to help the waste collectors around them. Related to the butterfly effect, this action assists in preserving our environment and ultimately a circular economy.

It is time for nature, as is aptly the slogan for this year’s celebration. We need to start making changes to sustain the environment so we can sustain ourselves. We urge everyone to join us in recognising, protecting and caring for our waste collectors as they plan an important role in keeping plastic out of our environment. It’s time #ForNature. It’s time to #SupportWasteWarriors.

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