On a whim I do my first trip out after surgery. Sudden deep need for fish and chips. I can’t find my son I intended to take along. It’s getting dark. Had googled best fish and chips in the Helderberg and ordered. I end up at the wrong place. My phone’s battery is about to die. On the last bar Maps get me to the right place.
Nobody else around. Hungry folk begging. Dash in and grab this plastic bag with meal for two. Totally forgetting my usual defenses… own containers, etc. On the way home I relish the delicious offering from the ocean by hand – who needs utensils? But arriving at home I unpack the whole bag. To my horror this is what I find…
For every person you bring home 6 pieces of plastic. Ouch!! How on earth is that OK? There and then I decide to join the Plastic Free July initiative. This was started in Australia in 2011. I cannot face another story about the destruction of our oceans and her creatures throttled by this durable material, without some truly concerted effort to change MY contribution to the problem.
Never mind that I recycle my plastics. Never mind that the rubbish lorry drives past my house without any loot most weeks. Never mind that even the recycling bag is not full enough to put out.
I know that I am still part of the problem, that I am still caught up in a lifestyle of convenience. That REDUCING waste is the most important weapon in the war on waste.
Of course it’s essentially not plastics that pollute but humans. In fact plastics brought along huge benefits in nutrition and fresh foods for more people, as well as medical care across the planet. However as it is light and cheap we as humans don’t value it properly. Hence we so often use it once and then discard it. If you investigate the intricate polimer manufacturing process and resultant footprint for one fleeting moment’s usage, it is just not justified.
So the Plastic Free July initiative does not intend to devalue plastics at all. On the contrary. It is too valuable to use only once and waste. The idea is to find answers together for our wasteful habits and share the journey.
So I will shop and consume differently and blog about the challenges as they present themselves. We will also dig deeper into the recycling of plastics and what is and is not recyclable in your area. Sometimes, I suspect, we fool ourselves. We will clear up misunderstandings – tweak our lives further to honour the earth on whom we depend. But alone it will be a drop in the ocean. Why don’t YOU join me? Let’s make this a communal effort? We will publish all stories in the Green Times and distribute across the English speaking world. Remember every drop counts. Think over a million hits of inspiration.
Send your blogs to firstname.lastname@example.org with PLASTICFREEJULY in the subject line. Please submit images separately as image files.
There is just no environmental issue that hurts me more than the state of our oceans. Growing up near and in the sea played a formative and comforting role during tumultuous times. Still when we need to get away from the city stress we head to the ocean, the great mother with her soothing sounds and perfect air.
We developed out of this great water body. Her creatures are beyond awesome – ancient, resilient, adaptive, but to a point. She provides the most important protein to the bulk of humans across the planet. Indeed our future depends on the health of these sacred waters we use as dumping grounds for our waste.
One could liken her to the big kidney of Mother Earth. She filters our excesses, feeds us, provides clean water back to the clouds , which then fill our dams again. Yet we dump and receive mindlessly. Without fully functioning kidneys we’re stuffed. Take them for granted at your own risk.
Over the years I have done too many beach clean-ups for it to make any sense without a concerted tracking of WHY all that rubbish lands in the sea in the first place. Where does it come from? Turns out it’s our habits that land the rubbish in the streets, storm water pipes, rivers and eventually the oceans. So too the fishing and shipping industries.
You could argue that you recycle your plastics, but the truth is that the bulk of humans still don’t. That complaining about this to your friends, freaking about the pics on social media and forwarding those stories still doesn’t mean you are not rowing the same boat intent on destruction. Hence HOW we consume as a species needs to change drastically.
Even if you recycle all possible waste, the size of your recycling bag is NOT a badge of honour. The less waste generated in the first place the more we bring sanity back to this planet.
July will be a month of change. It will not be easy, convenient, nor comfortable. That is not how important change works.
But together we can do this. We will hold back all other news this month, devoting the Green Times entirely to stories about plastic awareness.
Let us learn more together? Are you in?
By Elma Pollard