What does plastic have to do with poverty?

Environment and climate changeHealthPoor Communities

Jesus was not a fan of waste. After he fed the 5,000, Jesus asked his disciples to gather up the pieces so that nothing would be wasted (John 6:12).

This Lent, thousands of people have made pledges to reduce another type of waste – plastics. Many of us have been shocked recently to learn of the amount of plastic in our oceans, and feel called to protect God’s gift of creation.

But what is less well known is the devastating impact that plastic waste has on people living in poverty across the world.

A rubbish problem – and a solution
Two billion people living in poverty lack access to waste collection, meaning that much of this waste – including plastics – ends up being burned or dumped in places like rivers and oceans, creating a major health hazard. Uncollected waste increases the likelihood of diarrhoeal and infectious diseases, and toxic fumes from burning waste lead to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths a year.

There are solutions to this problem, though. For example, by increasing the support given to poorer communities to manage their waste, it’s possible to improve health, create jobs AND halve the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans.

A window of opportunity
In just a few weeks, world leaders will be gathering in the UK for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) – it’s a great opportunity for them to act together to tackle this global issue.

We would love to see the UK lead the way by putting more of the UK’s existing overseas aid budget towards waste management, and by urging Commonwealth countries to agree that tackling waste is a top priority. This would improve the health and lives of people in poverty. And it would be great news for our oceans and our planet.

Please pray

  • Give thanks for the recent increase in public awareness and concern about plastic waste.
  • Pray that Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for International Development, will act to address this issue on behalf of the UK government at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April.
  • Pray that Commonwealth leaders will be encouraged to remember those living in poverty.

Thank you for your prayers. If you haven’t already, please do sign our email petition on plastics and poverty.