Regulate Electronic Waste to Protect Waterways and Public Health

Target: Kepha Ombacho, Kenya’s Director of Public Health

Goal: Create and implement policy to regulate e-waste, protecting environmental and public health.

Kenya generates 44,000 tons of electronic waste (any device that uses a plug or battery) each year, posing great public and environmental health hazards. Electronic waste is a huge problem across the world, with 45 million tons produced in 2016, but in Kenya, this waste is not regulated. This is a growing problem for waterways such as the Nairobi River, where e-waste is dumped and toxins are distributed to agricultural areas. While there are three facilities licensed to handle e-waste, they are all currently running under capacity because of a lack of awareness about the dangers of e-waste and how to dispose of it properly.

A rise in income and a decline in electronics prices have contributed to this problem. Kenya also receives large amounts of e-waste from Europe, which is a common practice for developing countries. Across Southeast Asia, many landfill workers make money from recycling electronic parts or separating precious metals from the plastics. Direct contact with dangerous materials like lead, cadmium, and chromium are associated with developmental and behavioral problems, especially with children. In addition, these toxins accumulate in soil, waterways, and food.

Regulating e-waste has the potential to increase awareness about proper disposal practices not just with electronic waste, but with plastic waste. It also has the potential to turn the conversation to harmful consumer behaviors. Consumers often discard older electronic models when they still work or keep broken ones in their homes without disposing of them properly. Kenya’s government must implement a policy to regulate e-waste before it causes any more damage to the environment and its people. Sign the petition below to urge the Kenya’s director of public health to push for this legislation.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Ombacho,

Electronic waste is a huge problem across the world, but it is even more so in Kenya, where 44,000 unregulated tons are produced each year. Because there is no policy regulating e-waste, it is common practice to dump it into waterways, streets, and regular garbage bins. Electronic waste is highly detrimental to human health; it causes developmental and behavioral problems, especially in children. Toxins from e-waste also accumulate in soil, waterways, and food. The Nairobi River is now an awful e-waste dumpsite, and the rest of Kenya’s waterways are affected.

Kenya can make a positive impact on global e-waste by implementing a policy to regulate it. This waste has potential to improve recycling for all types of garbage, such as plastic. It can also help steer the conservation to changing consumer habits, not only regarding proper waste disposal and recycling, but also being mindful of purchasing new electronics when old ones can be repaired or traded in. Although widespread access to electronics may signal social and technological progress, we must ensure that it does not cause environmental degradation and public health deterioration. I hope that you implement a policy to regulate e-waste and help protect environmental and public health.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Sascha Pohflepp

Keep Nuclear Waste Away From Residential Areas

Target: Greg Clark, Minister, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Goal: Abandon plans to build nuclear waste storage facilities near residential areas.

As more nuclear reactors are built, the problem of storage continues to grow. In the UK, Britain is approaching residents of small towns with cash incentives to greenlight geological disposal facilities or underground nuclear waste storage. The process of choosing a suitable site and preparing and storing nuclear waste is highly technical, but still pose significant risks. This leads to a conflict between residents and scientists and those who support nuclear waste storage facilities. Britain has had a history of councils trying to built nuclear waste disposal sites without the consent of the public, which continues to feed mistrust today.

In 2012, residents and the media exposed a plan to build a 4.5 square meter nuclear facility in Northwest England near residential homes. The facility would hold Britain’s highest-levels radioactive waste; the plan was shut down due to public opposition after it was discovered that the plan were kept secret from residents. Now, local towns across Wales and England are being approached with incentives as high as $3.5 million a year to host the storage facilities, which would be built underground through a multi-barrier safety approach. This process includes turning the waste into insoluble glass, encasing them in steel containers  and then sealing them deep underground with cement or clay. The approach provides safety precautions to avoid leakage, but these plans require geological considerations such as water flow. 

While many countries have found areas that are suitable, such as Finland’s granite bedrock off the country’s west coast away from people, Britain is struggling to find appropriate areas. An expert claims that one suitable geological area might be one near the large metropolitan area in London and Oxford, but says he cannot see a facility being built there. 

To protect residents from potential radioactive disasters, we must ensure that storage facilities are thoroughly assessed before any plans begin. Their safety should not be bought through incentives; it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that clean energy does not jeopardize public health. Sign the petition below to ask Britain’s Minister of Business, Energy, and Industrial Energy to help protect the public from radioactive disasters. 

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr.Clark,

Britain is currently trying to find local towns to house nuclear waste. While most of Britain’s waste sits above ground today, underground waste facilities seem like the safest approach, due to a multi-barrier approach that helps prevent leakage. However, Britain is approaching local towns across England and Wales, offering incentives for towns to house radioactive waste, causing conflict between anti and pro nuclear waste storage facilities. 

While underground facilities take safety precautions, there are still risks involved, especially when said facilities are built in proximity to residential areas. These geological sites must be chosen carefully, to ensure that natural conditions do not pose an even higher risk. Finland and Germany provide a positive example of facilities taking into account scientific and political expertise on where the best potential sites are. Britain should follow suit and connect with locals and scientists before beginning projects. 

As Minister of the Britain’s Business, Energy, and Industrial Energy, you have a responsibility to ensure the UK has clean, affordable energy, but also to ensure that nuclear energy processes do not jeopardize public health. I hope that before building any nuclear waste facilities, that you take into account public health and scientific expertise. The public should not have to suffer from radioactive disasters that could have been prevented.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: D5481026

Protect Europe’s Heaviest Flying Bird

Target: Borja Heredia, Head Avian Species Team, UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

Goal: Promote and increase support for organic farming to help protect great bustard populations.

The European great bustard is an endangered species suffering from intensive agriculture and man-made structures. It is an important species because it has the potential to determine the health of an area’s biodiversity. Spain and central Europe house the largest populations of great bustards, but their numbers have been steadily declining in Ukraine and Russia, especially. Poor management and conservation programs, along with intensive agriculture, have negatively affected their numbers in these areas.

Intensive agriculture uses pesticides and fertilizers that kill off insects in open landscapes, where great bustards live. If these lands use toxic chemical inputs, the bird no longer has insects to eat. Great bustards can be used as a flagship species (or symbol) for areas that use less-intensive agriculture. If we focus on protecting the great bustard, the entire health of open landscapes in Europe will also improve.

Another issue great bustards face are structures that obstruct their way, which often result in fatal interactions. Power lines are hazardous, as great bustards fly in low altitudes and cannot see them. Railway cables, wind parks, and roads are also a problem because they are barriers to movement and fragment landscapes.

To restore populations across Europe like they have done in Germany, conservation efforts must be implemented through decreased use of pesticides and fertilizers, leaving fields fallow, and ensuring that the birds have enough resources to support their young. Sign the petition below to urge the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals to promote organic farming to protect the great bustard population.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Heredia,

The UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals has the capacity and expertise to help protect endangered animal populations. The European great bustard is one such endangered species–Europe’s heaviest flying bird which has suffered declining populations over the past few decades. Intensive agriculture, which uses pesticides and fertilizers, power lines, roads, and railway cables have all contributed to its decline. However, Germany has shown that with successful conservation efforts and collaboration between various stakeholders, it is possible to restore their populations.

Organic farming, a less intensive form agriculture which typically does not use fertilizers or pesticides and allows time for the fields to recuperate, is one solution to the great bustard’s decline. If the UN promotes organic farming through different campaigns and interventions such as encouraging consumers to purchase organically-farmed produce, and helping farmers adopt more eco-friendly farming practices, we can still save the bird’s populations.

The great bustard can be used as a flagship species for open landscapes across Europe. Intensive agriculture kills off insects and plants, which negatively affects the bird’s resources for survival. If we protect it, we are protecting a whole region, simultaneously. I hope that the UN can devise and implement a campaign to promote organic farming, which can be a part of a bigger conservation effort to save the great bustard. I firmly believe that with collaboration across various stakeholders such as land-owners, farmers, conservationists, and hunters, we can help save the great bustard.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Franceso Veronesi 

Don’t Give Endangered Lands to Harmful Corporations

Target: Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Minister of Environment and Forestry, Indonesia

Goal: Don’t give endangered lands to companies with rich histories of environmental degradation.

Endangered land in Indonesia, and all of the habitats and species that come with it, may soon be destroyed. The government of Indonesia is planning to complete a “land swap” with peat companies. This swap will take untouched, yet severely endangered, natural lands and throw them into the hands of companies that have a proven history of environmental degradation.

This proposed swap comes after severe fires destroyed much of the nation’s peatlands. These fires released extremely dangerous amounts of carbon into the air. Since then, Indonesia has attempted to regulate peatlands. This latest swap is part of these efforts. However, this land swap will still result in environmental damage, just in new areas.

The land affected is estimated to be the size of Lebanon. Sign the petition to demand that this land be protected. Ask Indonesia’s government to scrap plans for the proposed land swap.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Bakar,

Land the size of Lebanon, untouched by deforestation and industrialization, may soon be destroyed in your government’s proposed “land swap” with corporations. Though this land swap is part of your government’s efforts to regulate the exploitation of peatlands, this move will still inflict damage on your environment. The companies you are proposed to swap with have a history of unsustainable practices.

The shrinking, untouched land of your nation must be protected. I demand that you and your government throw out the proposed plans to swap Indonesia’s endangered lands and natural habitats.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Alasdair MacDonald

Protect Foxes and Other Wildlife from Illegal Hunting

Target: Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Goal: Strengthen hunting restrictions and severely punish those engaging in illegal hunts.

Animal rights groups in Britain claim that over 500 illegal hunts were reported across the country last year, with the fear that this number is simply ‘the tip of the iceberg.’ It is believed that thousands of foxes, hares, deer and other animals are being cruelly slaughtered annually using packs of hounds, even though this practice has been banned for over a decade. It is far past time that those engaging in illegal hunts be found and punished, and that this ‘tradition’ be finally brought to an end.

Although most forms of hunting using dogs have been banned in the UK due to the fact that it causes suffering and harm for both wildlife and dogs, there are allegedly many hunters who are flagrantly violating these laws, using a legal loophole known as ‘trail hunting’ to cover their tracks. In addition to hunting down and barbarically killing innocent animals, packs of hounds have allegedly harmed domestic pets and run into traffic, resulting in dangerous situations for animals and people alike.

Reported incidents such as these indicate a need for Britain to crack down on these illegal activities. Sign the petition below to demand that all violators be found and punished, and that hunting restrictions be tightened to avoid more needless and cruel bloodshed.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister May,

There have been hundreds of reports of so-called ‘trail hunters’ who have been illegally using packs of dogs to kill various forms of wildlife, including foxes and hares. While this method is touted by hunting advocates as a humane alternative involving no live quarry, it is believed that many hunters are using this as a cover for traditional hunting methods using hounds to kill live prey. Because trail hunting so closely resembles old fashioned tactics, it is easy for hunters to potentially deceive investigators and other local officials.

As long as hunters can use this legal loophole as a cover for illegal activities, innocent animals will continue to be subjected to cruel and painful deaths. That is why we, the undersigned, demand that trail hunting be made illegal and that all those found in violation of hunting laws be punished severely.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: K Hill

Bring An End to Deforestation at the Hands of the Chocolate Industry

Target:  Giovanni Ferrero, CEO of Ferrero

Goal: Stop supporting methods of cocoa production that enable deforestation and instead pledge to uphold sustainable cocoa farming.

One of the world’s leading chocolate companies, Ferrero, is playing a large and devastating role in the deforestation of our planet’s rarest rain forests and jungles. While Hershey and Godiva have been praised for their commitment to sustainable cocoa production, Ferrero has yet to implement a policy that pledges to end its role in deforestation.

Recent surveys and studies have ranked chocolate companies’ impacts in ending deforestation by scoring them in three main categories: West Africa cocoa, worldwide cocoa agroforestry, and deforestation-free cocoa. While Ferrero does not source cocoa from West African rain forests, it still must take steps to support deforestation-free cocoa production worldwide.

Sign the petition to demand that Ferrero follow the lead of its competitors and work to end deforestation by pledging itself to sustainable practices.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Ferrero,

Recent reports have ranked the chocolate industry’s impact on deforestation. While competitors like Hershey and Godiva came out on top and have stopped sourcing cocoa from endangered forests worldwide, your company has not. While Ferrero has committed to sustainable practices in West Africa, this is not enough. Rain forests all over the world are in danger.

I demand that you follow the lead of your competitors and pledge to take a stand against deforestation. I ask that you turn to sustainable ways of cocoa production.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Mikkel Houmøller

Success: UK to Introduce Ivory Ban

Target: The Right Honourable Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Goal: Praise United Kingdom for finally introducing a ban on the ivory trade.

The United Kingdom will be banning all ivory sales, thanks to public pressure and persistent efforts from conservationists. The ban will reportedly be “the toughest in Europe and one of the strictest in the world,” cracking down on the sale of products containing ivory made in the last 30 years and containing more than 10 percent ivory; there is nothing to be done about vintage products with trace amounts, but the ban assures that no new products will be made or sold.

This ban has been a long time coming. For five years, the UK was the largest exporter of legal ivory in the world, with thousands of elephants per year being killed to produce it. Public pressure and petitions such as this one on ForceChange have challenged this grim reality, fighting for the rights and welfare of the elephants targeted by poachers and ivory dealers for their tusks, and these efforts have finally paid off.

The news of this ban is most welcome after years of the UK stubbornly clinging to their ivory trade. Every country that stops the sale and exportation of ivory is a step towards the phasing out of ivory products overall, meaning a brighter future for the elephant population. Sign this petition to thank the UK government for finally stopping their irovy trade.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister May,

The United Kingdom’s recent announcement of a ban on ivory sales is most welcome. For years, the UK has been one of the chief ivory exporters in the world, causing the deaths of thousands of African elephants each year, and the most reluctant to change this despite mounting public pressure. At last, though, the efforts of environmentalists and animal conservationists have paid off.

Ivory is fast on its way to becoming as obsolete as fur coats, as objects traditionally made of ivory are now crafted with other materials, and the more countries that reflect this, the better. This ban is a major step towards a brighter future for the elephant populations and is much appreciated. Thank you for listening to the demands of the public and putting the welfare and survival of elephants above the sale of an obsolete material.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Sokwanele Zimbabwe

Prevent Ecological Suicide in Proposed Canal Project

Target: Prof. Dr. Veysel Eroglu, office holder of the Ministry of Forest and Water Management, Justice and Development Party

Goal: Halt the Istanbul Canal project until further environmental assessments have been executed.

A canal in Turkey slated to be completed by 2023 will potentially displace thousands of people, jeopardize water supplies for the nearby city, and destroy natural water systems. The Istanbul Canal is part of a three-part “crazy project” by the President in Turkey, including a new airport and several bridges to raise Turkey’s GDP. Today, the country is second only to China in the construction industry, which made up 19% of its economic growth in the past year alone.

The President claims that Turkey needs to invest in these projects and in the construction industry because the country produces little else. However, the proposed canal will not raise property values, but will result in an ecological suicide. Environmentalists argue that they have not been consulted about environmental assessments regarding development projects in recent years.

Those who speak out are seen as opposition to the Justice and Development Party. The government does not realize or acknowledge the tremendous environmental consequences that would result from this project. Building the canal means leveling 864 acres of forest, and displacing more than one million people. In addition, water supplies will be greatly affected; the current dam will be uprooted and underground streams and water sources will be disrupted. Furthermore, linking the canal will force two seas to join, but because the waters have different densities, the change in salinity could lead to a chemical odor in the air.

Many pro-environmentalists argue that local institutions no longer have a say in development projects. The government announces a plan and instead of revising it in consultation with experts, it becomes an order that must be followed. Although the construction industry might bring in foreign investment, the Istanbul Canal raises huge environmental concerns that the government is not addressing. Let us try to prevent displacement and water systems destruction and urge the Justice and Development Party to halt construction until proper environmental assessments have been performed.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Eroglu,

The Istanbul Canal, a 30-miles long, and 80-miles deep construction project, will displace thousands of people, destroy water resources, cut through forests, and disrupt natural water systems. In addition, archaeological sites will be destroyed, such as the Yarimburgaz Cave, one of Europe’s oldest settlements. Environmentalists worry about these damages especially because they have not been consulted. Before, environmental assessments and expert consultation were needed before construction projects began, but now the government issues projects as if they were orders.

This is extremely distressing because there is so much at stake. Freshwater sources might be polluted, migration routes might be disrupted, and some fish species might not survive. Of course, these are only some concerns that could be explored with more environmental impact reports.

I understand that the construction industry will bring in foreign investment and help Turkey’s economy flourish, but a short-lived economic upturn does not justify ecological suicide. I hope that before any construction begins, the Justice and Development Party consults experts on sustainable development. I urge you to conduct appropriate and thorough environmental assessments before proceeding with the Istanbul Canal project.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Chris McGrath

Prevent Ocean Dead Zone, Clean Up Animal Farm Waste

Target: Lee Heng Ken, Deputy Director General of the Department of Environment, Malaysia

Goal: Stop animal waste from polluting water and killing fish. 

Untreated pig and chicken farm waste from mainland Valdor, Malaysia spilling into the sea will likely cause jellyfish blooms that will kill off fish. When this untreated waste finds its way into canals and into the sea, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium cause an overgrowth of microscopic plankton, depleting oxygen, causing fish to die off. Because jellyfish need very little oxygen to survive, they thrive. Furthermore, they catch fish larvae and fish numbers cannot stay up to suffice for human consumption.

This area is an urban-rural migration zone that helps relieve congestion on the island, but more and more are complaining about the farms. In an area of 345 acres, there are 43 pig and 57 chicken farms crammed next to each other. The Universiti Sains Malaysia Centre for Marine Coastal Studies have been studying jellyfish populations (which are growing) and water quality since October 2017. Water tested from a canal containing animal waste water contained ammoniacal nitrogen that exceeded a class five (severely polluted) river by 94 times.

Although the farmers are required to adopt closed farming systems by 2019, there must be something done in the meantime. We should not let fisheries die off; there is no telling how or if they will recover if we continue to let untreated animal waste pollute canals and the sea. The Department of Environment should act and enforce stricter regulations now or help the farmers adopt closed farming systems sooner. Urge the department by signing the petition below.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Heng Ken,

Pig and chicken farm waste from mainland Valdor is contributing to potential dead zones in the sea where fish cannot survive, and jellyfish thrive. The nutrients from animal waste cause microscopic plankton to bloom, choking out fish. In addition, jellyfish need little oxygen to survive and catch fish larvae, further diminishing fish populations for human consumption. Fisheries near water waste pathways will suffer, harming livelihoods and the environment.

Malaysia’s centre for coastal studies has been conducting research on jellyfish and water quality. They tested water from canals near the farms and it was 94 times more polluted than a class five (severely polluted) water, according to the Department of Environment standards. A State Environment Committee chairman asserts that they are aware of the issue, and that the area is vital to relieving congestion on the island.

Be that as it may, the state should be doing all it can to prevent this catastrophic event from occurring. Jellyfish populations should not be allowed to increase to the point where fisheries no longer exist. I implore you to enforce stricter regulations on farms in addition to the requirement to adopt closed farming systems by 2019. If possible, you must address the issue of helping farmers reduce water waste pollution, and help them adopt closed farming systems sooner. I hope that you take into account the destructive consequences untreated animal waste can have, and act to protect the environment.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Pxhere

Ban Improper and Unsafe Waste Disposal in the Philippines

Target: Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines

Goal: Stop inappropriate and toxic waste disposal threatening the welfare of the Filipino people, their lands, and the overall environment.

One of the largest environmental problems facing the Philippines today is the practice of unsuitable and hazardous waste disposal. Their governmental mismanagement of waste services has resulted in serious ground and surface water contamination. Improper waste disposal has continued for many years, and what began as a threat to the environment has evolved to include serious health risks for people as well.

Inappropriate garbage disposal results in dangerous water pollution, air pollution, and flooding. Hazardous waste harms people directly by contact and also indirectly through the polluted atmosphere and contaminated water. Cast-off refuse in oceans and waterways creates clogged canals and spillage, causing flash floods that put citizens in harm’s way.

As the population of the Philippines increases and cities and provinces become more developed, the risks of improper waste management are elevated. Open dump sites permit debris to drift into waterways and neighborhoods. Moreover, urban citizens claim there are not enough dumps and landfills to accommodate the overpopulated regions of the country, further encouraging the improper disposal of waste.

Action must be taken now to remedy this severe health risk to people and the environment; improper waste management poses a problem for everyone. All countries on our planet have the inherent responsibility to ‘do no damage’ by committing to the preservation of our environment for the welfare of the earth and its inhabitants. Sign the petition below to stop irresponsible and dangerous waste disposal in the Philippines and demand strict adherence to laws previously passed for environmental protection.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Duterte,

There are many environmental issues that plague the Philippines, however, one of the greatest threats to the welfare of the country’s lands and people is the improper and hazardous disposal of waste. Open dump sites allow the free flow of trash and hazardous materials into waterways and neighborhoods, and refuse burning pollutes the atmosphere. It is imperative that dangerous and inappropriate waste disposal be discontinued and laws strictly enforced for the protection of your country’s citizens and the communities in which they live.

Improper waste disposal threatens the health of the environment and all living things. The garbage that flows into oceans and waterways from dump sites causes water contamination and flash flooding from clogged canals, putting people at risk for illness and disease and wreaking havoc on communities. Incorrect disposal of trash is an attractive invitation to rodents that infect water sources, transferring deadly and contagious diseases to humans.

It is devastating to see abject waste management practices taking such a severe toll on a once beautiful land inhabited by healthy people. Furthermore, it is entirely inexcusable to allow the improper disposal of waste to continue without attempting to solve the problem. I demand that Republic Act 9003 and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 be strictly implemented to stop dangerous and unsuitable waste disposal in the Philippines before it is too late to reverse the damage.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Kounosu