Wednesday, 7th June marks World Environment Day, a United Nations-designated day encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. The Religious Sisters of Charity have a longstanding commitment to the environment, with representatives from every region on the Care of the Earth Committee. This year’s World Environment Day theme is #BeatPlasticPollution and the Care of the Earth Committee have an update from California.
The Californian Region has focused its Care of Earth Plan on Care of the Ocean. A significant food source for us all, the ocean also provides 70% of our oxygen – without our oceans, there can be no life on earth. Plastic pollution is an alarming threat to the health of the oceanic eco-system with 11 million metric tons of plastic entering our oceans every year. By 2050, there will be more plastic weight in the ocean than fish. The RSCs in California believe that the key to saving our ocean is through engagement with our youth and beach clean-ups are a fun way to engage them and help them experience how to make a real difference.
In partnership with Surfrider Foundation, the Californian Region will be engaging in two beach clean-ups in Southern California – one in Los Angeles County and the other in Orange County. St. Columban’s School (also the workplace of Sr. Brid O’Shea RSC) will be participating in a beach clean-up in Orange County in autumn 2023 as beaches particularly need extensive beach clean-ups after summer. Sr. Margaret Farrell RSC‘s workplace – Covenant House – will organise a clean-up along Los Angeles beaches this summer.
Surfrider Foundation will organise the events and provide everything needed. RSCs and volunteers will receive brief instruction and then work in pairs to clean their assigned area of the beach. One volunteer will pick up rubbish and plastic waste using a clean-up tool while the other records it on a summary page. At the end of the clean-up, Surfrider Staff will provide an educational briefing about the health of the ocean and the value of the volunteer’s contributions.
The data that is collected will then be aggregated and used to leverage United States national legislatures; campaigning for increased environmental protections through compiling summary reports detailing the overall volume of rubbish and plastic waste cleaned as well as the types of items left behind on our beaches.
World Environment Day 2023 is a reminder that people’s actions on plastic pollution matters. The steps we call on governments and businesses to take to tackle plastic pollution are the consequence of this action.