Our world has a rubbish problem, and it’s hitting people living in poverty the hardest.
Today, 2 billion people in the world’s poorest countries are living and working among piles of waste because their rubbish isn’t collected. That’s one in four people on the planet drinking polluted water, breathing toxic air, battling sickness. This causes between 400,000 and a million deaths a year – and each day the waste mountains are growing. Globally, almost half of all plastic produced is used just once.
Multinational companies such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever are making this rubbish problem worse. They sell billions of products in single-use plastic packaging in poorer countries where waste isn’t collected. And they know full well that people will have no choice but to burn this rubbish – which also contributes to climate change – discard it in waterways or live among it.
Plastic problems but real people
This affects people like Daiane Maria. Daiane is 23 and lives with her sister and family in Recife, Brazil.
She says, ‘It only has to rain and everything floods. A lot of rubbish comes down the river… What I see most are water bottles and fizzy drink bottles, the type of bottles that are not returnable.’
When all the waste comes down the river, it blocks waterways and causes people’s homes to flood. Plastic waste like this also creates a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes, bugs that carry dangerous diseases.
Daiane says, ‘When it floods, everyone gets diarrhoea and sickness. Just this week I had to help my daughter, who was vomiting. Another problem is the rats. There are lots of rats. I get very down, but there is nothing I can do about it, because I don’t have anywhere else to go.’
Close to home
We have a plastic pollution problem in the UK too. It’s estimated that we throw away almost 300 billion pieces of plastic each year from our homes – more than 4,000 pieces per person. Most of this isn’t recyclable.
But this rubbish situation can change, if we act together. When we steward the earth’s precious resources wisely, we can all flourish. We can drink clean water. Breathe fresh air. Enjoy good health. Our rubbish can be reduced and reused – and this can bring good, safe jobs to the poorest communities.
Daiane says: ‘If I could send a message to the companies, it would be to tell them to stop throwing rubbish our way.’ We can ensure that this message from Daiane is delivered. We can say to companies: ‘Don’t be rubbish. Stop creating plastic waste mountains in poorer communities.’ We can look at our own lifestyles at home and at church too, and reduce our own rubbish. When we do, we are valuing what God has given us and following Jesus in loving our neighbours and caring for creation.
That’s why we believe this Rubbish Revolution will change lives. Will you join us?
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