Once upon a time plastic seemed like the new solution to everything. Rather than using up the earth’s precious metal and mineral resources we could create things with plastic. This even goes as far as food (trans fat) and other items we ingest such as micro-beads in toothpaste etc.
A blind addiction to this easy to manipulate, cheap material – like everything we want it easy and we want it fast. Most worryingly we continually want more and more of it. Why moderate our use to that of need, no, we can feed our greed with more and more, more than we can use, more than the planet can deal with.
At the root of this is our avarice as a species – insatiable and often sickening, and at the root of that is money! More more more at any cost – we know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.
In 2007 I watched a programme detailing one woman’s battle to save a dying albatross. One young girl who swam in the ocean and collected plastic bags as she saw the damage they were doing and the way the contaminated the beauty of the sea. It was based on midway island and showed how the adult albatross went out to sea to collect food; they were dazzled by the colourful plastic floating on the ocean and brought it back to feed to their young. Filled with plastic and lacking nutrition the young starved to death although their bellies were full and the adults worked tirelessly in vain to feed them.
I remember then being horrified by the effect that our blatant disregard for the value of anything and our disposable attitude to everything, including life, had on this gentle and massive species so far removed from us. The link was so slight and yet so all devouring.
I admit to moving on and forgetting this image for some years. I succumbed to the pervasive culture of plastic.
In more recent times I have been shocked again by the images of albatrosses, of turtles dying from asphyxiation, of animals strangled by or starved by plastic. The Blue Planet opened the eyes of the world, it woke us from our zombie like trudge into unquestioned destruction.
It is not our only fault. Humans have many, but plastic is one that I, along with every other human being, can make a difference to.
Say no to plastic! raise your disquiet with packaging! do not avoid that, that already exists – reuse, reduce and recycle. We cannot get rid of that we already have but we can say no to new plastic – we can refuse to take packaging home from the supplier – create them the problem and the cost of disposal – they will rethink how they package and make things differently if we vote with our cash. Remember it all boils down to money.
Less, as they say, is more!! it will not happen overnight but we will learn to accept what we need and not to have things to prove a point that we can.
I am not perfect and I do use plastic! I do buy food still wrapped in plastic and items that are made of it or contain it. But I am trying, and learning.
I have material shopping bags that I can use again and again. I have drinks bottles to fill rather than buying plastic bottles over and over again. I buy drinks in cans or glass bottles that can be recycled and do you know what – I know they are more expensive but that just means I have to have less. I try to buy food without packaging, at the supermarket I take veg to the till without a separate plastic bag for each product – I take it loose and then use one bag (material or a bag for life) to carry it home. I do forget the bag from time to time.
I support campaigns to reduce the use of plastic and to encourage manufacturers and suppliers to reduce their use. I cut up plastic so that animals cannot get trapped in it if it ends up at a landfill site or in the ocean. I use things as many times as I can for as long as I can before disposing of them.
I have bought a Pela case for my phone which is biodegradable, it will break down to nothing and is made of plant material.
I opt for no straws when I go out and if I have a party I use real plates and cups and I wash up.
Please join me in taking these small steps so that together we all make a big difference.
Love the albatrosses.
Thank you Morgan Hoesterey for being that young free diver who first pricked my conscience.