For Charles, the Prince of Wales’ 70th birthday on Nov. 14, the BBC is releasing a documentary on his life and the one segment already hitting headlines isn’t about Prince Charles’ 70 years of scandal– it’s about his 1970s speech against plastic waste. After a pre-screening, HRH Princes William, Duke of Cambridge and Henry, Duke of Sussex, recalled childhood memories their father taking them out over their school holidays, armed with spikes, to collect and dispose of plastic litter. One brother, Prince William, remembered his classmates taking, “the mickey” out on him for continuing this practice at school, picking up random litter he found on the ground and disposing of it in the nearest receptacle.

And, speaking of Mickey, Prince Charles was not the only ‘70s figure to spread the importance of removing plastic waste to the next generation through action. Walt Disney held this same policy. Legend has it that, as he walked through his parks, Disney would pick up waste and dispose of it, refusing to leave this job solely to his employees. Now, all Disney park employees continue to follow the founder’s actions, both on and off the clock.

Both of these men recognized the importance of the environment and proper plastic disposal during a time when the world was only producing about eight million tons of municipal solid waste, and predictions for this plastic destroying our oceans was a distant future they may not even live to see. Now the World Bank Group, as well as numerous other organizations, have recorded the world as generating about 1.3 billion tons of municipal waste per year, a nearly 200 percent increase. Earth is getting destroyed, the oceans are polluted and our beaches and oceans are dangerous for both animals and children alike.

We are destroying the Earth with plastic waste, and there is no excuse. Not with modern recycling techniques. Not with the dozens of warnings spread through commercials, public service announcements and advertisements. Not when the majority of schools teach about the harm of this plastic waste. And certainly not when it has even become a hot topic in politics so literally everyone knows about it. These two men were on the right track back in the 70s. Ending plastic waste is everyone’s responsibility, even if you would never dream about purchasing something non-biodegradable and somehow aren’t contributing to the build up of plastic waste in any way, shape or form. Picking up plastic from the ground and recycling it isn’t even enough. We need to get rid of plastic waste by preventing plastic waste from being created at all. Many towns and businesses are halting the use of plastic bags in their stores, many companies are starting to ensure their products are made of or enclosed in biodegradable materials. We need to aid in this push in any and every way we can. Following the methods of Walt Disney and Prince Charles is step one.

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