World Consumer Rights Day 2021
World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated every year on 15th of March to highlight the power of consumers and their rights for a fair, safe and sustainable marketplace for everyone. This year the theme is ‘Tackling Plastic Pollution’. Through this campaign we intend to increase awareness and engage consumers globally to adopt and promote more sustainable practices.
Here are some hard facts which will help one to understand why tackling plastic pollution is so important:
- By 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish
- 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually
- An estimated 8 million tons of plastic enters our oceans every year
- Single-use plastics account for 50 percent of the plastic produced every year
- Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years
- 40 per cent of plastic produced is packaging and discarded after one use
- India consumed around 18.45 million tonnes of plastics in 2018–19
- Plastic waste generation is expected to increase to 31.4 million tonnes by 2031 and further to 55 million tonnes by 2041
(Sources: PlastIndia, 2019, Statista 2019, Consumers International)
The invention of plastics definitely came as a boon but no sooner it became a curse especially with single-use plastics. Plastics which are very useful commodities because of its properties like ductility, malleability, and water resistance have now become an environmental challenge. With lack of awareness and poor solid waste management in cities, plastics have resulted in its littering and damaging oceans, seas and land. Challenges are galore with recycling and management of plastic resources as well.
However, with time, consumers are gaining awareness and getting concerned about plastic pollution. As per Consumers International, a global study in 2019 found that there is a strong consumer response to plastic waste (with 82% of respondents using reusable cleaning utensils instead of single-use plastic alternatives, 72% bringing reusable bags when shopping and 62% using refillable drinking bottles) – and despite the increased use of single-use plastic during the pandemic, 55% of consumers globally have now become more concerned about the environment as a result of COVID-19 and nearly 74% of consumers (in Europe, the US and South America) are willing to spend more on sustainable packaging.
Theme of World Consumer Rights Day 2021
Keeping the urgent need to save our planet, the theme for World Consumer Rights Day 2021 has been kept at ‘Tackling Plastic Pollution’. The 2021 World Consumer Rights Day campaign will focus on 7Rs: Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair and Replace. Consumer VOICE is committed to make the world a better place for consumers from every aspect including protecting it environmental pollution cause due to uneconomical waste disposal.
What can be done?
The 7Rs can be used in an effective way to ensure that we minimise plastic use, refuse unnecessary plastic where possible and demand more sustainable alternatives from businesses and governments. We can extend the lifetime of plastic products by reusingthem, dispose of plastic waste appropriately by following local recycling guidelines.
Refuse – Refuse to accept or support products or companies that harm the environment. One way of doing this is to refuse items that are over-packaged or packaged in plastic.
Reduce –One can reduce single use plastic bottles in kitchens and in daily supplies and instead use reusable and refillable products – eg avoid paper cups and paper plates
Reuse – Get in the habit of reusing jars and containers. Reuse plastic bottles for storing or for planting. You can also use bottles for storing cutlery, pen stands etc
Repair– Repair broken and damaged items or recycle them with some excellent ideas. There are many exciting ways household items can be repurposed and repaired.
Recycle – Recycling of plastic items will reduce waste and environmental pollution. There are various recycle ideas which can be used efficiently.
Replace – Replace plastic containers with eco friendly alternatives.
Rethink – Rethink before you buy plastic wrapped things from the market. Use unpackaged products to reduce the use of plastics.
Role of Consumer VOICE
Consumer VOICE has been in the forefront in generating awareness and promoting sustainable practices among consumers. Innovative ideas like recycling old plastic bottles for potted plants, refusing plastic bags and replacing it with recycled bags or cloth bags have been part of consumer sensitisation. Children play a crucial role in contributing towards the environment by taking small but solid steps in day to day activities. Encouraging children to drink water out of reusable can, spreading the awareness on the harmful effects of plastics with peer groups are ways which will form part of the campaign. Managing ewaste which accounts for a substantial proportion of plastics is very crucial when it comes to saving our environment. Consumer VOICE has also been spreading awareness through various workshops in the past on how one should become a responsible consumer and contribute diligently towards disposal of ewaste without harming the environment.