Taronga Western Plains Zoo Director Steve Hinks said the future of humankind is looking grim if we don't take action during this generation.
Mr Hinks said humans are facing the sixth mass extinction of our kind as he launched 'Litter Free Rivers' campaign on Wednesday as part of World Environment Day.
"We are the first generation who actually understand the gravity of the situation we're in, and we are the last generation who can do something about it," Mr Hinks said.
"We know the survival of humans as a species relies on a healthy environment and relies on an effective food chain, and we know the actions we've been taking over time and the impact we have been having on the world puts those things at risk.
"If we don't take action now there is an enormous consequence we would face as a species as well, it's something I'm certainly mindful of as a father of two small children of wanting to do everything we can to hand our environment and our world down to future generations, and we can do something about it.
"My goal for this year is to see plastic straws eliminated in Dubbo, and I would love to see Dubbo lead the way in NSW in terms of becoming an environmentally sustainable city."
Mr Hinks said although there are lots of issues around the world to do with habitat loss and global warming, the focus of the campaign is around the problems we are facing due to waste, in particular, single-use plastics
The campaign has put forward a program for a local business where they can download a free toolkit to start replacing disposable items with reusable ones.
"This is something that has permeated all parts of the food chain and has massively detrimental effects, particularly to our aquatic species.
"The campaign is a call to arms for individuals and businesses to do everything they can to reduce single-use plastics.
"Australians use one billion single-use, disposable coffee cups per year, generally speaking, most of those are not biodegradable; they last for hundreds of years. We use 2.7 billion plastic straws per year in this country, again they take up to 450 years to break down."
"And the Macquarie River is the life-blood of our region and rivers flow into the oceans.
"There are issues with plastics getting into the food chain through species such as fish, frogs, and amphibians and amphibians are most prevalent on the list of endangered species, and there are one million species across the world facing extinction."
Mr Hinks said taking care of our waterways is essential as water is our life source, "if we don't do something about it our species face enormous problems".