World Environment Day: Sustainable Lifestyle is the Key to Protect Our Environment
Heena Samant, Research Associate, VIF

Every year, the world celebrates “World Environment Day” on 5th June. Led by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), it is the largest global platform for environmental public outreach and is celebrated by millions of people across the world.[1] The World Environment Day has a specific host country and a theme every year.[2] For the year 2023, the host is the West African country of Cote d’Ivoire, in partnership with the Netherlands and the theme is to prevent plastic pollution. It is also important to note that the Netherlands is one of the leading nations in taking actions against plastic pollution. As this year is about creating awareness on plastic pollution, it is important to know more about this grave environmental issue.

According to the UNEP, plastic pollution is a global problem.[3] Approximately, 7 billion of the 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic produced from 1950-2017 became plastic waste, ending up in landfills or dumps.[4] Plastic pollution can alter habitats and natural processes, reducing ecosystems ability to adapt to climate change, directly affecting millions of people’s livelihoods, food production capabilities and social well-being.[5] Additionally, as per the UN more than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year worldwide, half of which is designed to be used only once.[6] Out of these less than 10 per cent is recycled and an estimated 19-23 million tonnes end up in lakes, rivers and seas.[7] Today, plastic clogs our landfills, leaches into the ocean and is combusted into toxic smoke, making it one of the gravest threats to the planet.[8] This very much highlights environmental ignorance which has been practiced by the humans since ages.

On 2 March, 2022, Heads of State, Ministers of environment and other representatives from UN Member States endorsed a historic resolution at the UN Environmental Assembly in Nairobi to end Plastic Pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024.[9] Additionally, there are several countries which are working towards tackling the issue of plastic pollution, India being one of them.

According to the United Nations, one of the major initiatives which have been encouraged under the umbrella of the “World Environment Day” by the UN is for the people to switch to sustainable lifestyles. This is a timely solution not only to to change the course of our environment and where it stands today but also to deal with the impacts of climate change. To be specific, “sustainable lifestyles” or to live sustainably means to understand how our lifestyle choices will impact the world around us and also finding ways to live better and lighter.[10] In fact, India during COP 26, introduced the concept of ‘Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE) which basically is a movement towards “mindful and deliberate utilization, instead of mindless and destructive consumption” to protect and preserve the environment.[11] Additionally, the government of India has prohibited the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of all identified single-use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential with effect from July 1, 2022.[12] In fact, there have been efforts to improve ocean health through collective action and involvement of the local citizens in the country.

While it is significant to celebrate planet earth annually, it is equally important to create awareness about the fact that today our environment is under threat. Environmental degradation along with climate change is the two most critical issues which humanity faces today. This is exactly the reason why the United Nations, has described the planet today to be in the “emergency mode”.[13] Factors such as industrial revolution, rapid urbanization, population growth along with the anthropogenic activities practiced by the humans have led to the disintegration of nature.[14] If this was not enough, climate change, a concept which is described as a “threat multiplier” will make the effect of these environmental issues worse in the coming years. The world is on the verge to breach the 1.5 degrees Celsius target in the next five years and if nothing is done and fast the planet may explode. The next and the biggest issue as well as a definite solution to upgrade our environment isto bring about “behavioral changes”. This is the need of the hour. While the world recognizes this to be an important solution to this critical problem, very little is being done to implement and bring about behavioral changes amongst the people.

As much as the developing world is in need to bring about behavioural changes so does the developed world. The developed world tends to forget that environmental degradation and climate change are global problems and require concerted actions. In fact, according to the UNEP, if 1 billion people out of global population of 8 billion adapt to environment friendly lifestyle, global carbon emissions could drop by approximately 20 percent.[15] This in turn will help to preserve our environment. Hence, solutions to these issues should not just be on paper and related to policies. It is important to protect our environment by changing our lifestyles. The biggest achievement so far is that the world knows as to where the fault lies which is basically the fact that a sense of ownership is lost amongst people towards the environment and nature. This needs to be accelerated across the globe.

End Notes

[1]United Nations 2023, “World Environment Day”, [Online] Available at:
[2]Lifestyle desk, 2023, “World Environment Day 2023: History, Importance, and why is it celebrated”, Indian Express, [Online] Available at:
[3] UNEP, “Plastic Pollution”, [Online] Available at:
[6]Krishna PriyaPallavi, 2023, “World Environment Day 2023: Date, history, significance, theme of the day, host and all you need to know”, Hindustan Times, [Online] Available at:
[7]UNEP 2023, “2023 Theme and Host”, [Online] Available at:
[9]UNEP 2022, “Historic day in the campaign to beat plastic pollution: Nations commit to develop a legally binding agreement”, [Online] Available at:
[10]UNEP, “Sustainable lifestyles”, [Online] Available at:,timely%20and%20opportunities%20are%20great.
[11]Lifestyle for the Environment, “About the LiFE Campaign”, [Online] available at:
[12]Minan Sharma 2022, “Ban on Single-use plastic by July 1, is India Inc ready?” [Online] Available at:
[14]Number 2.
[15]Number 11.

(The paper is the author’s individual scholastic articulation. The author certifies that the article/paper is original in content, unpublished and it has not been submitted for publication/web upload elsewhere, and that the facts and figures quoted are duly referenced, as needed, and are believed to be correct). (The paper does not necessarily represent the organisational stance... More >>

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