In 2018, scientists found plastic waste in Antarctica- the world’s only uninhabited ice landmass. Very few parts of the earth are still untouched by air, land, and water pollution, or a combination of all three.
There is nothing like the realities of the mess we've made to spur us on toward sustainable action. The first step in solving the massive pollution problems we face is recognizing those problems in the first place. Raising awareness of plastic pollution and the other problems with waste on our planet can help us find pathways forwards to a better world.
Here are 19 pollution quotes from climate activists trying to do just that. These quotes remind us of the scale of the problem and inspire action that can help us clean up our acts.
Bernie Sanders is an American politician who currently holds the record for being the longest-serving independent member of Congress. Burlington, Vermont, elected Sanders as Mayor in 1981, then re-elected him three times.
Sanders introduced the largest community-level renewable energy investment in U.S. history through the 2007 National Energy Efficiency Grant Program. As with this pollution quote, Sanders often calls for public action toward tackling pollution.
Barry Commoner was a biologist, politician, and professor. He was also a director of the Center for Biology of Natural Systems and the Critical Genetics Project. Commoner also ran as a candidate for the Citizens Party during the 1980 presidential race.
Many hailed Commoner as one of the pioneers of the current environmental movement. He often shared warnings of the environmental threats of technology, pesticides, and nuclear weapons. His constant efforts to repel harmful artificial forces have paved the way for the implementation of the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Evo Morales was Bolivia’s first indigenous president. He first gained attention through his activism and efforts to protect cocalero (coca leaf grower) rights as a unionist. Besides the presidency, he holds several titles, such as the head of the Movement for Socialism Party and an election to Congress.
Many laud Morales as a champion of environmentalism. We also recognize his efforts to declare clean water as a basic human right which led to the implementation of necessary policies. The results of his efforts include the institution of April 22 as International Mother Earth Day by the United Nations.
Charles Duhigg is an award-winning journalist and author. He currently works and writes for the New York Times and has written books concerning the scientific explanations for habits and productivity, namely The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business and Smarter Faster Better (amazon).
Duhigg dedicates significant time to sharing his concerns about urban pollution. This pollution quote brings home the ease at which overlooked pollution could become a significant problem. The Society of Environmental Journalists awarded Duhigg for his investigative work, which also tackles pollution and environmental concerns.
Henry Rollins, also known as Henry Lawrence Garfield, is a musician, comedian, and activist. He is most notably known for being the vocalist of the hardcore punk band Black Flag (amazon). Currently, Rollins is a columnist for Rolling Stone Australia and a radio show host on KCRW.
Rollins is an outspoken activist for human rights and other global issues, which include conservation and care for the environment.
Many recognize the name ‘Elon Musk’ for his prominent work with his companies; Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity, to name a few. His revolutionary projects include mass-market electric cars, Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs, and the human colonization of Mars.
Musk has spoken publicly about having a disdain for fossil fuels in an age where we have access to alternatives. In this pollution quote, he calls our continuous use of fossil fuels “the most dangerous experiment in history.” This is probably because, despite extensive research, we can’t conclusively measure the effects of our massive carbon emissions.
Joe Biden was the 47th vice-president of the United States and is currently running for the 2020 presidency as a member of the Democrat Party. He is an awardee of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Biden has been an active participant in several human rights-related political discussions for the past years. Such discussions include the Iraq War, the Violence Against Women Act, and climate change. Biden was one of the pioneers to enact a climate change bill in the Senate. This bill was the 1986 Global Climate Protection Act. Biden was also involved in the largest clean energy investment in history, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, while under the Obama Administration.
Klaus Schwab is a German author, professor, economist, and engineer. Among his many distinctions, he is most known for founding and leading the World Economic Forum. Schwab created organizations such as The Forum of Young Global Leaders and the Global Shapers Community. These organizations seek and develop young leaders of the world into influential and positive forces of change in their respective communities.
Schwab authored The Fourth Industrial Revolution (amazon), wherein he talks about a new era currently unfolding. According to him, this era marks the resurgence of new technologies. These technologies will revert the harmful natural effects of previous industrial revolutions. They may also start the rejuvenation of the natural environment in its entirety.
Aaron Peirsol is an award-winning former Olympic swimmer for the United States. Among his many distinctions are seven Olympic medals and an American Swimmer of the Year Award. Having possessed a close affinity with the water, his advocacy for the conservation of the seas against pollution is nothing out of the ordinary.
With this pollution quote, Peirsol reminds us that our water bodies are more important than new buildings. Water is a necessity, unlike our never-ending consumption, which eventually leads to waste generation.
Jacques Cousteau was a French oceanographer who was famous for pioneering modern diving practices and equipment such as the Aqua-Lung. He authored successful books such as The Silent World: A Story of Undersea Discovery and Adventure (amazon). Cousteau was also responsible for award-winning films such as The Silent World, which promoted the discovery and conservation of marine life and other aquatic bodies.
A known conservationist, Cousteau fiercely advocated for nature, particularly the preservation and protection of sea bodies and aquatic life.
Philippe Cousteau Jr. is the grandson of Jacques Cousteau and the son of Philippe Cousteau. Born into a family of environmentalists, Cousteau Jr. easily continued the advocacies. He works to educate the public about environmental conservation issues.
Cousteau Jr. holds up the legacy of his grandfather and father. He is the pioneer of marine conservation, writes books, and manages environment-related non-profits. Just as with this pollution quote, Cousteau Jr. always works his concerns about our environment into his public speeches and discussions.
Buckminster Fuller is an architect, designer, and inventor popular for his invention; the geodesic dome. He was also the second World President of Mensa, the largest and oldest high-IQ society in the world.
Fuller expanded his work into fields such as agriculture and engineering. He aimed to seek the improvement of the material efficiency and energy-related practices they had back then. He was a strong believer in renewable energy sources and technologies that protected humanity’s future and survival through efficient means. Fuller spoke about harnessing waste as a resource instead of condemning it to degradation or pollution.
Ted Danson is an American actor who made his big career break as Sam Malone in the award-winning sitcom, Cheers (amazon). He has since also appeared in countless other shows and sitcoms, such as CSI and The Good Place (both on Amazon).
Apart from his work on set, Danson has also written a book, Oceana (amazon), on the issue of ocean conservation. He speaks on how we can save our oceans and protests climate change loudly. The Police once arrested Danson for his activism at a climate change rally. Danson’s fight for the environment is inspiring.
The Honourable James Buchan is a Scottish novelist and historian. He studied Persian studies at Oxford University and worked for 12 years as a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times. Buchan has written several articles for The Guardian around the issue of nuclear fission and its long-lasting effects on our planet.
Awareness of our contribution to pollution is only the beginning. While these pollution quotes can certainly inspire us, we must convert our feelings into positive action. To turn the tide on this global issue, we should recognize and take on the roles we, as individuals, can play in making things better.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.