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Planet Earth: Our Loving Home

Plastic Pollution: Its Consequences for Rivers and Oceans, Part 2 of 3

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On today’s program, we continue our exploration, as we travel to Africa to visit the magnificent River Nile. This 6,650-kilometer-long waterway runs through 11 countries on the African continent, and an estimated 250 million people rely on it for drinking water, household use, and irrigation. In June 2020, the British free-to-air television news channel Sky News aired a remarkable documentary called “The Plastic Nile.” Hosted by Emmy and BAFTA-Award winning journalist and special correspondent Ms. Alex Crawford, the film revealed the extent of plastic pollution all along the river. “This is the majestic Nile, the world’s longest river, crucial to the survival of millions of people. The Nile is basically a life source for them. But now the river’s existence is threatened, like never before. Everywhere you walk, it’s all plastic. We followed the polluted waters from the river’s source. For the first time, we revealed the full extent of plastic pollution across five countries.” The pollution in the Nile has become an international issue. Every year, the River Nile dumps an estimated 18,000 tons of plastic waste into the Mediterranean Sea. It is truly a wake-up call for the world. “And we urge the international community to take immediate action, before it’s too late.” “If we don’t do anything to save the Nile, the Nile is going to die.” African governments have been taking action to halt further plastic pollution. For example, South Sudan has already taken an important step. “And also with the lack of recycling plants, all these plastics are being littered, in the end they find themselves in streams, our main streams in Juba, and during the rainy season, all these plastic bottles are washed into the river, causing a lot of pollution of the River Nile. And we know that the River Nile is very important. And we have the largest wetlands in Africa, which is the Sudd. So, the government, in 2015, came up with a ministerial order banning the use and importation of plastic bags in the country. And now it is forbidden for anyone to be using plastic bags in the country.” Kenya also banned the use of plastic bags in 2017, imposing a fine of up to US $40,000 for anyone producing, selling – or even just carrying – a plastic bag. Ethiopia and Uganda have followed suit with similar bans. Supreme Master Ching Hai has often warned about the detrimental impact of plastic pollution on humans, animals, and the environment. She also reminds us that plastic water bottles are not good for our health. “Drinking water from plastic bottles is not that healthy. The plastic leaches out tiny particles into the water. Those are the components from the plastic bottles which leach out and mix with the water. We can’t see them but the water has some of those components in it. If we continue to drink the water or soda in plastic bottles, in the long term, our blood will be full of those.”
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