From quotes of the day to bad bumper stickers there is an ever going trend for us to find our voices and seek change where we want it the most. But is that really happening in the world of the Plastic crisis? Have we woken up yet and smelt the proverbial coffee enough to see the big picture and realise that it really is up to us if we want to see a change.
As you may know Plastic Free July is upon us a.k.a the waste nerds version of 'Fashion week' . It's a time where we can bombard you with information around the issues of plastic waste and its harm on the environment, in the hopes that someone out there may actually consider giving up their cellophane wrap obsession or take-out coffeecup addiction. But is this really the right approach? Are we as a society going to willingly adopt plastic-free alternatives on the basis of something like 'guilt-tripping'.
In other words: Do I really have to act like your nagging ex in order for you to make minor adjustments in your life for the greater good ?
I think the question that we need to ask ourselves here is: What is it really going to take to get people to change?
It really is up to us:
I understand that the issue behind plastic is not a simple one. It has become so intrinsic in our daily lives as human beings that in certain third-world countries and societies eliminating something as simple as plastic may cause socio-economic issues, cultural turmoil and may even be, in some extremes, the difference between life and death. Yes, it is that dramatic! However here in the West, still referred to by many as 'the land of the privileged' and birth place of the Kardashian empire, we still hide behind our snowflake excuses, secretly craving our plastic-riddled toys and whatsits.
Yes, 'Big business' and governments have a MASSIVE role to play in what products we find on our supermarket shelves and let's not get started on the whole fossil fuel saga i.e. the Human equivalent of Herpes that we so graciously gifted to the Earth. The 'bottom up approach' is heavily underestimated, but history has proven time and time again that we as individuals CAN get the job the done whilst forcing the big boys to sit up, listen and eventually change.
Take Whaling as an example. Humans were hunting whales for nearly 4000 years and in many cultures it formed part of various traditions besides providing food, materials and cultural identity. Initially the resources gained from the whaling industry were indispensable, but when Kerosene and other fossil fuels came about in the early 1900s, the industry plummeted ... but did not stop. Whale populations kept declining to a point where the Blue Whale was close to extinction. The IWC was formed in the 40's and was responsible to spearhead ideas and laws around reducing commercial whaling, but failed!
It was GreenPeace, a totally independent and publicly funded organisation, that turned the tables. Their 1976 'Save The Whales' campaign shone a spotlight on the industry in a way that had never been done before. By "showing the public images of whales being killed sparked a movement and a sea-change in popular opinion against whaling". In 1982 the IWC voted for a moratorium on all commercial whaling!
Fast forward to 2022 and 1976 seems like more than a life-time ago. Let's face it, the world has changed drastically. In many instances for the better, but certain man-made social constructs are definitely questionable. As we all know social media is a great source of information and 1am olympic scrolling practice. This barrage of information and entertainment at our fingertips has created a society of distractions - simply focused on the next big trend!
In one instance we may be flicking through images of burning forests in Australia and in the next it's Will Smith bitch slapping his way through the Oscars. Our minds are literally being trained for fast paced Dopamine riddled exciting short videos which means in the long run - our attention span doesn't leave any room for empathy let alone to see the big picture.
It's difficult not to get pulled in by the masses with the rest seeking for approval and validation through likes and clicks. We've all been there, heck I'm still there! I'm definitely not the person to be handing out advice on how to minimise social media use and how to keep one's self grounded to reality. It's a constant struggle. But one thing I somehow always remember is a random quote I had heard from a close friend :
“One life on this earth is all we get, whether it is enough or not enough..." - Frederick Buechner
You can all interpret it in different ways, but I choose to believe that as human's we do somehow have an underlying responsibility on this blue floating dot in the dark mist of space, that as much as it cares for us, we are its carers. No number of social media posts will change that idea for me. That is my tether to reality that keeps me from getting lost in the masses. If my little quote doesn't do it for you, then I implore you to seek one out for yourself and hold it close.
In conclusion ...
Was my blog post somewhat of a rant? Maybe. Do I regret it? Nope. I set out to write this Plastic Free July post with the intention of not providing some false sense of security that all is well in the world and that change has come. Change has not come, but it can be seen on the horizon! The only question left though is 'will it be too late by the time it actually does get here?' We as individuals have the power to speed things up by raising our voices in our own communities. Whether it's amongst our family and friends or to our local officials, a voice is a voice that can spread and inspire. Plastic can be a thing of the past, but only if we really want it to be! xoxo