In observance of Earth Day 2024, DISTED College recently convened a crucial panel discussion titled “Planet versus Plastics.” This event, part of a global movement sparked by Earth Day’s inception in 1970, draws attention to the pressing issue of plastic pollution, a global challenge impacting our environment and health. 

This year’s theme, “Planet versus Plastics,” highlights the alarming statistics around plastic usage—only 9% is recycled. The theme underscores the critical connection between microplastic pollutants and severe health issues, such as cancer and neurodevelopmental disorders, emphasising the necessity for drastic reductions in plastic production. A recent report by The Star outlined Malaysia’s rank as the fifth-worst contributor to oceanic plastic waste, underlining the urgent need for effective waste management and sustainability practices in Malaysia. 

The panel discussion brought together leading voices in environmental conservation and sustainability in Penang, chaired by Prof. Dr. Vikneswaran Nair, President of DISTED College, Penang. The panellists include: 

  • Melissa Sivaraj from Think City, who emphasised the impact of plastics on urban heating and advocated for co-existing with nature. 
  • Dr. Choong Jian Ming, founder of Aimpactz Social Enterprise, discussed his initiatives in sustainable education. 
  • Dr. Tan Sze Huey provided insights into the molecular biology of plastics and their environmental impact. 
  • Mr. Jerome Khou, Chairperson of the Green Educators Workgroup, highlighted educational strategies for sustainable development. 
  • Ms. Sri Mageswari Pattel of the Penang City Council shared innovative, sustainable urban initiatives aligned with local and global sustainability goals. 
  • Mr. Lee Wei Yi, representing the student body, discussed the role of youth in addressing environmental challenges. 

The panellists tackled many issues concerning plastics, advocating for systemic changes to protect vulnerable populations and stressing the importance of individual actions in driving significant environmental improvements. They shared actionable steps everyone can take to mitigate plastic pollution, including: 

  • Conducting Weekly Waste Audits: Identify and reduce waste by carefully examining what is thrown away. 
  • Minimising Rubbish Bins: Encourage the reduction of waste by using fewer bins, promoting mindful disposal and recycling. 
  • Diligently Sorting Recyclables: Improve recycling effectiveness by properly sorting materials at home. 
  • Planning Purchases to Minimise Waste: Make thoughtful shopping decisions to reduce waste generation. 
  • Carrying Reusable Items: Reduce reliance on single-use plastics using reusable water bottles and food containers. 
  • Building Urban Farms with Recyclable Materials: Promote food security and waste reduction through innovative recycling in urban farming. 

These initiatives underscore the power of individual actions in fostering a sustainable future and highlight how personal responsibility can lead to widespread environmental benefits. 

As we conclude the Earth Day 2024 events, we are reminded of our critical role in combating plastic pollution. Every small action contributes to a more significant effort to preserve our planet for future generations. Let’s continue to share best practices, inspire others, and actively participate in creating a sustainable, plastic-free world. Join us in turning the tide against the global waste crisis and making Earth healthier. 

Join the conversation and contribute to a plastic-free planet.