NES Mangaia Environment Officer, Tangimama Harry, ran an awareness campaign as part of the Environment Week in Mangaia. The campaign supported this year’s theme ‘Solution for Plastic Pollution’.
Since the 1950s, 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced of which 6.3 billion tons are now in waste. There is about 8 to 12 million tons of plastic leaking into the marine environment and this is expected to triple by 2050. As plastic pollution becomes more visible on land and waterways, a surge in global calls to curb the trend are more visible. Studies show that the unsustainable production and consumption patterns of plastics impact human health and the health of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
The importance of Tangimama’s campaign comes at a critical time as the role of traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems and practices, play a pivotal role in reversing the trend of unsustainable and unnecessary plastic consumption. Tangimama’s initiative included the promotion and use of woven fruit platters as an alternative to single use plastics. The fruit platters were provided to the community as a reminder that our environment provides a healthy living space for all. She also advised the community on the importance of reducing plastic packaging.
The local businesses in Mangaia supported the waste reduction initiative by providing free locally made baskets to shoppers. The aim is to promote reusable bags and reduce plastic bags in the community. An environment week banner was displayed in front of the main government building in Oneroa and environment awareness messages screened on Mangaia’s local television station. The commemoration ended with education and awareness activities, including a tree planting programme with the local Mangaian school students.
Tangimama said “studies have reported plastic particles found in human lungs and human blood, and microplastics in human placenta. It is important that we understand that the plastic crisis is not only what we see in plastic waste, but the invisible impact on our health and environment is more concerning. Traditional knowledge and practices have been used by our ancestors for thousands of years. Our oral history exists for a reason and to guide us to practice what is truly regenerative to nature”.