plastic litter

To honor 52 years of action inspired by Earth Day, Earth911 is presenting 52 Actions for the Earth. Each week through Earth Day 2023, we will share an action you can take to invest in the Earth and make your own life more sustainable. Taking action for the environment isn’t just about your choices as an individual, though. When an environmental problem is systemic, it also means pushing for government action.

This week, you can invest in the Earth by encouraging an official to take action on plastic pollution.

Action: Ask an Official To Help End Plastic Pollution

Plastic Pollution

Plastic is a multi-faceted problem. The fossil fuel-based material generates greenhouse gas emissions throughout its lifecycle; is rarely recycled (and often unrecyclable); contributes to giant gyres of ocean pollution; and even accumulates in the human body as microplastics. We should all be working towards a post-plastic world, but individual action isn’t enough to get there. Governments have a role to play, too, by passing legislation that will regulate plastic production and waste and incentivize sustainable alternatives.

Global Plastic Pollution Treaty

Last year, Peru and Rwanda introduced a draft resolution to the United Nations Environment Assembly to create a global legal framework regulating the use of plastic. In August, Norway and Rwanda launched the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution. The coalition of 20 countries joined together to forge a global plastics treaty that will end plastic pollution by 2040. The United States is not part of this coalition.

The coalition has three strategic goals for the treaty: restrain plastic consumption; enable a circular economy for plastics; and achieve environmentally sound plastic management and recycling. They have established seven deliverables for achieving the goals:

  1. Eliminate problematic plastics, including by bans and restrictions.
  2. Develop global sustainability criteria and standards for plastics.
  3. Set global baselines and targets for sustainability throughout the lifecycle of plastics.
  4. Ensure transparency in the value chain of plastics, including for material and chemical composition.
  5. Establish mechanisms for strengthening commitments, targets, and controls over time.
  6. Implement monitoring and reporting at each stage of the lifecycle of plastics.
  7. Facilitate effective technical and financial assistance, scientific and socio-economic assessments.

To Whom it May Concern

You can always write to your Congressional representatives, but the president is the elected official who appoints diplomats to serve the United States Mission to the United Nations. It’s unlikely the president will personally see your letter, but the White House does track all correspondence. Follow their guidelines for calling the White House or writing to the president.

What To Write

Writing a letter to an official can be simple, but if you don’t have time this week, you can sign the petition on’s plastic pollution campaign page. You can also use their petition for inspiration – your letter doesn’t have to be original, just accurate. In your letter, you can share information about the problems caused by plastic pollution, and the importance of taking the steps outlined by the High Ambition Coalition. Or you can keep it simple and skip straight to asking the official to support the coalition and participate in the development of a global plastics treaty.

By Gemma Alexander

Gemma Alexander has an M.S. in urban horticulture and a backyard filled with native plants. After working in a genetics laboratory and at a landfill, she now writes about the environment, the arts and family. See more of her writing here.