As a conscious member of society, we all have the responsibility to take care of the planet. ALL OF US. No one is exempt. It doesn’t feel very dire. The icecaps haven’t all melted yet and our houses aren’t yet flooded and we still have clean drinking water and our climate isn’t yet scalding our skin. So we’re OK.
Yes, turtles are dying from plastic choking and seals getting trapped and killed in discarded fishnets and colourful plastic confetti is found in fish. All the time. Factories pour untreated chemicals into rivers and pump toxic gases next to villages. But we’re here. We’re living, breathing, consuming, producing, growing as a human race.
We live. We pillage. That’s why we’ve been doing for centuries. So who cares about the environment, right?
If we keep consuming and living the way we currently do, we soon won’t have a habitable planet to exist on. Stephen Hawkin isn’t too optimistic about us. He thinks the human race won’t survive another 1000 years. I’m with him. At the speed at which we consume things, the total lack of awareness, or ample awareness without action, we will be our own downfall. It’s inevitable – we will slowly kill ourselves if we don’t change. Plastic consumption is one big problem, and we’re discussing this because we have a choice. We’re also part of the problem. We can together make changes, starting small, today.
- Stop buying anything plastic. Whenever you’re in the supermarket, whenever you reach out for that plastic soda container, you’re making a choice. You make the choice to consume something which the earth cannot digest. That plastic you buy will go on to exist thousands of years after you discard the wrapping, or end up in the ocean. Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s an enormous sludge of marine debris, containing plastic and its broken down particles, floating along the ocean and harming marine life. A lot of what’s found there is from our consumption. We can blame industries for much of the plastic pollution, but we must accept that we are also the main cause.
- Consciously opt for glass packaged items instead. If there’s glass recycling in your city/country, then great. If there isn’t, at least glass isn’t as harmful to the environment as plastic is. They often can be made into bricks for construction, or washed and reused for beverages.
- Bring your own bag. It’s not hard, just a tad inconvenient. Just slip one of those foldable shopping bags wherever you go to make sure you don’t use plastic bags when shopping.
- Shop at local farmer’s markets. Unlike the typical mega supermarkets, these places don’t package their goods as heavily. There’s also less of a carbon footprint if it’s not imported from another country.
- Re-use your plastic containers – if you must buy plastic items. Yoghurt containers are excellent as pen holders. I have a couple of those myself. What other things can you do with old plastic containers?
- If you eat out – bring a few clean containers in case you want to pack away food. Or just order the right amount so you won’t create plastic trash from uneaten food when taking home.
- Buy fewer things.
- Swap goods with friends instead. Do you really need that extra photo-frame/toy/dress/gadget? It’s beautiful, maybe useful, but it’s heavily packaged with plastic. Plus don’t you have something similar at home already? How about a clothes swap party with friends, or get hand-me down gadgets from a more tech savvy friend?
- Go Zen. Declutter, but don’t buy more stuff. Contemplate that beautifully spacious room.
- Having a baby? Ask friends for stuff (who’ve had kids), especially bulky items like beds, strollers, cupboards, wash tubs. That’s saving a lot of plastic packaging!
The industries aren’t going to do anything for us. The government could make laws, taxing plastic producers or prohibiting plastic production completely. Frankly I’m surprised plastic isn’t labeled as “TOXIC” by now, the way they label cigarettes. Because it is toxic. It’s enduring and long lasting and breaks down into tiny unmanageable particles. It’s literally killing our environment. They’re only starting to do research on how plastic consumed by marine animals in turn affects humans when consumed as food.
But they won’t. The industries aren’t going to do anything. In fact, as consumers rise up and realise the harm that plastics are doing to us, they’ll only fight back harder with more ad campaigns and more lobbying efforts to halt any laws that hurt their profits. The government isn’t going to do anything. Because too much profit is involved. Their hands are tied. Or, those in power actually have vested interests (directly or not) in the plastic industry. The source of plastic – petroleum industries – are too powerful.
What you and I can do, as individuals, is halt our consumption, and see if we can curb the horrifying effects plastic on our planet by together manipulating demand.
Other excellent videos:
- ASAP Science, Ocean Confetti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVoFeELi_vQ
- Plastic Paradise: http://plasticparadisemovie.com/trailer/
- Addicted to Plastic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZnw-d_Axy8
Featured image credit: marinecitizenship.com