Attended by a total of 15,759 people, the campaign derived the effect of reducing 68,958.18 kg of carbon dioxide, planting 10,448 trees, and saving 11 tonnes of paper.

World Environment Day, which is celebrated on June 5 every year, was established at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment [UNCHE] held in Stockholm, Sweden, in June 1972, pledging to contribute to preserving the global environment. The UNCHE held in Stockholm was the first international conference in which the international community pledged to cooperate to preserve the global environment. A total of 113 countries, 3 international organizations, and 257 private organizations attended this event, and as a result, the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was declared and the UN Environment Program [UNEP] was established.

The UNEP, established in response to this resolution, has been commemorating World Environment Day since 1987; they select a theme that raises awareness of environmental issues such as air pollution, plastic pollution, illegal wildlife trade, sustainable consumption, sea-level rise, and food security, and hold events in a selected country by continent. In particular, they are holding the “Global 500 Award Ceremony” to promote individual and community activities for environmental protection. This award is presented annually on World Environment Day (June 5) to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding achievements in protecting and improving the environment.

2021 Theme: Ecosystem Restoration

The theme for World Environment Day 2021 is “Ecosystem Restoration,” and we will see the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature. The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the UN Decade, following a proposal for action by over 70 countries from all latitudes. The UN Decade runs from 2021 through 2030, which is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals and the timeline scientists have identified as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP] and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [FAO], the UN Decade is building a strong, broad-based global movement to ramp up ecosystem restoration and put the world on track for a sustainable future.

The Government of Pakistan, in which World Environment Day take place this year, plans to expand and restore the country’s forests through the “10 Billion Tree Tsunami” program for five years from 2019 to 2023. The campaign includes restoring mangroves and forests and planting trees in urban areas, including schools, colleges, public parks, etc. and green belts. Through the “10 Billion Tree Tsunami” program, Pakistan is contributing to the Bonn Challenge, a global effort linked to the UN’s ecosystem restoration. Under this challenge, countries are pledging to bring 350 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2030.

Ecological Pollution

Humans emitted 9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 1750, and this rose to 20 million tonnes in 1850 and 5.3 billion tonnes in 1950. In 2017, we emitted 36.1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. The concentration of methane (CH4), a powerful greenhouse gas, rose from 1162 ppb in 1950 to 1850 ppb in 2017.

Until 1950, cement production reached 130 million tonnes per year and concrete production 1 billion tonnes per year. Currently, 4 billion tonnes of cement and 27 billion tonnes of concrete are produced annually. While producing cement, calcium carbonate is heated, emitting a large amount of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

The Amazon forest, which accounts for about half of the world’s tropical rain forest, has lost its function as the lung of the earth due to massive deforestation. It turned out that the carbon dioxide we emitted for the past 10 years is 20% more than what has been absorbed.

ASEZ’s Environmental Campaign, “The Cost” for World Environment Day

In commemoration of World Environment Day, ASEZ members launched a campaign focused on clothing consumption, which is the main cause of ecological pollution.

Chinese textile factories alone, which produce more than 50 % of world’s total fiber processing volume, produce about three billion tons of soot—air pollution linked to respiratory and heart disease—every year by burning coal for energy. Textile mills generate one-fifth (20%) of the world’s industrial water pollution and use 20,000 chemicals by which most of them causes cancer. Nevertheless, 22,000 liters of toxic waste is dumped into rivers in Bangladesh every day, causing serious water pollution.

Ecological pollution occurs not only in producing clothes but also in maintaining and wearing clothes. About 700,000 fibers can be released to wastewater in a single domestic wash. Microplastics that are released pose various indirect and direct hazards to diverse organisms: for example, abnormal metabolism and immune response, and severe intestinal damage, and even death.

Clothing causes serious ecological damage even in landfilling. About 85% of all textiles (100 billion clothing made worldwide) go to the dump each year. However, it takes at least over 200 years for a shirt to decompose in a landfill. In this process, toxic air pollutants such as methane, carbon dioxide, and dioxin are released.

For this, ASEZ launched a campaign for a month in June to raise public awareness of clothing industries, which cause serious ecological pollution in its entire process–producing, buying, maintaining, and incinerating–and to minimize buying clothes in real life. The three types of campaigns are as follows: “Stop Buying Clothing,” “Reduce Washing Clothing and Use of Dryers,” and “Recycle Clothing.” During this period, the ASEZ members minimized buying, washing, and drying clothes, so that they could exert direct and indirect impact on the environment of the clothing industries.

The members carried out the campaign in various ways such as reforming unused fabrics into scrubbers, chair covers, and hair accessories, wearing clothes inherited from family or acquaintances instead of buying new ones, and donating clothes they don’t wear.

As a result, they inherited and shared a total of 2,793 clothes instead of buying new ones, avoiding 968 times of using washing machines and 669 time of using dryers. This reduced a total of 68,958 kg of carbon dioxide which is equivalent to planting 10,448 trees. It is the same as reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from 11 tons of paper.

Our Mindset Toward “World Environment Day”

Scientists say, “We never know when humanity will hit a point of no return.” The UN stated, “There has never been a more urgent need to revive damaged ecosystems than now . . .  The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration can help to end poverty, combat climate change and prevent a mass extinction.”

Since Earth is the home of humankind, a healthy ecosystem is needed to solve economic, social, and universal issues as well. This is why we, who are living in the last generation that can be reconciled with nature, should have a correct perception toward the ecosystem through World Environment Day, and start making efforts at least with something small right now.