By Mary Muia, SI UN Representative Nairobi Centre
World Environment Day 2023 is hosted by Côte d’Ivoire and supported by the Netherlands. The theme will focus on solutions to plastic pollution under the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution and is a reminder that people’s actions on plastic pollution matters. This year’s theme highlights the urgent need for governments and industries to implement systemic change to end plastic pollution.
Soroptimist International Nairobi Central Club in partnership with The First Lady of Narok County, Agnes Ntutu and The National Organisation of Peer Educators (NOPE) through the support of USAID NPI EXPAND Project in Narok South held a joint Commemoration Day of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) and World Environment Day at Olashapani Boarding School, Ololunga ward.
The partnership distributed reusable sanitary pads to girls in seven primary schools in Narok South sub-County in Kenya. Mentorship sessions on menstrual hygiene health, teenage pregnancies, early marriages, FGM and life skills were conducted to both boys and girls. The boys were also gifted under garments as a way of uplifting their self-esteem at puberty and increasing male involvement in discussions.
Every year, over 400 million tons of plastic is produced worldwide – one third of which is used just once. Every day, the equivalent of over 2000 garbage trucks full of plastic is dumped into our oceans, rivers, and lakes.
There is need to create awareness in communities to recognise the connection between menstrual health and the environment even as we explore climate-friendly and sustainable solutions to plastic pollution. By doing so, we will create a future where menstrual health becomes an everyday fact of life while promoting environmental sustainability.
Last year, the global community began negotiating a legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution. This is a promising first step, but we need all hands-on deck.
A new report by the UN Environment Programme shows that we can reduce plastic pollution by 80 per cent by 2040 – if we act now to reuse, recycle, reorient, and diversify away from plastics. “But we have solutions!” Says, António Guterres, United Nations Secretary General.
Comprehensive menstrual health education empowers individuals to make informed choices and embrace environmentally friendly practices. Integrating environmental awareness into menstrual health curricula fosters a generation that understands sustainable menstruation. This generation takes active steps towards minimising their ecological footprint.
The consequences of continued plastic pollution are catastrophic, because microplastics find their way into the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. Plastic is made from fossil fuels – the more plastic we produce, the more fossil fuel we burn, and the worse we make the climate crisis.
We must work as one – governments, companies, and consumers alike – to break our addiction to plastics, champion zero waste, and build a truly circular economy. Together, let us shape a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future for all.