The Mango tee is 100% organic cotton, the Pull & Bear jeans are eco-friendly, the River Island clap handbag is made ethically and the Aldo trainers are designed to last forever and despite all these sustainable pretexts along with the beautiful country-side that reminds me of England, the picture after all is not totally green. It is obvious, right there, on the left side of the picture, there is a worn out abandoned plastic bottle. Sad!
When the picture was taken, I was so excited! Thinking that this might be it! The 1 Million Dollar photograph, the masterpiece. But when I eventually managed to see the photograph, my jaw dropped and the excitement trickled down. The 1 Million Dollar photograph is no longer a prospect, let alone the masterpiece. The picture is distorted by the abandoned plastic bottle that is there because someone didn’t take his or her responsibility to put the trash in the right place. Not wanting to give up, I planned to Photoshop the picture to reach the level of aesthetics that I wanted to have until I realised that I could use this picture to send a whole new different message to the world.
Plastic waste is ubiquitous! It’s everywhere, it’s covering our oceans and polluting our forests. It’s in the air we breathe in, in the water we drink or inside the food we eat. It’s a matter of time before it ruins your life. As for me, it was that day, the day when the picture was taken. While reading this, one might say, “What, you are exaggerating!” and I might node to the claim. Nevertheless, this exaggeration is made with the sincerest intention at heart! I made it a great deal to remind everyone who are reading this article that plastic waste is a world crisis! A collective action is needed to solve the problem. The effort to save the planet from plastic pollution doesn’t belong to the hands of the hard-working environmentalists. It belongs to every single human being who lives in this Earth.
Our Earth was once pristine. But today, the picture you see above is the normalcy.
And you might have known about this but cut me some slack, and let’s jump into statistics for a second. In 2018 alone, 380 million tonnes of plastic were produced worldwide and 40% of this amount comes in the form of plastic bags, food packaging or plastic bottles, the products that we use for a few minutes to an hour, and then being tossed. Once thrown away, this waste will end up either in the oceans, landfills or get recycled. If it ends up in the oceans, it’ll remain floating on the surface of the seas damaging the natural habitat of coral reefs, getting into the food chain of marine animals or choking sea turtles to death. If the plastic waste ends up in landfills, they will remain in the area piling up until it’s time to be burnt in order to make some space for a new load of trashes. When the trashes are being burnt though, the smoke it creates will release hazardous chemical substances that are toxic to human body.
So, what’s gonna happen if the plastic waste ends up in recycling plants? Will it be a better story for the plastic waste and the Earth? Well, if the trashes end up in the good hand of recycling plants, the plastics will be processed to give them a new life cycle. However, there is a catch. Plastics can only be recycled several times. It means that when the plastics reach the end of their life cycle, the trashes will eventually end up at a trash dump. In conclusion, once plastics are produced, they will remain on the Earth for ages! The is no way out. Although, clever people might take an easy way to wash their hands by making the plastic waste a commodity. If you ask, “Are you saying that people are selling rubbish?” The answer to that question is a big “Yes” Countries like the US and Canada are dumping their trashes to developing countries legally or illegally. In other words, while we are smearing the Earth with plastics and marines animals are dying from it, some irresponsible people are making money out of this vicious cycle!
As a thinking being, should we let this happen?
There is no easy way to answer this question. But let me share a brief story of how I used to live my life in Bali or in England. In these countries, where people are becoming so much aware of plastic pollution, it is easy to be conscious of my impact on the world. I was so close to becoming an early adopter of the newfound philosophy, the so-called conscious lifestyle. When my grocery time hit the bell, I never forgot to snatch my reusable shopping bag that I could use to contain my groceries and refused to take plastic bags from the counter. Reminiscing back to the good old times I shared with friends at a bar or restaurant, I am happy to tell you that I had always opted for a bamboo-made or paper straw to zip my drinks. When they were not available, I zipped my drink directly from the glass, simple and stylish! Then, if you ask, what about your household waste? Well, I used to live alone so I didn’t trash that much but even when I did trash, I tried my best to separate the waste according to its type: organic, paper or glass. This way, it’s easier for the people who work in the waste management to process the trashes and to recycle the ones that can be recycled, thus giving more time to the plastics before they end in the trash dump.
Notwithstanding, I have been staying in a new environment where plastic bags are still an essential part of the business to customer transactions. Everywhere I go, groceries, restaurants or shops, plastics bags are abundant! I admit that in this situation, it is hard to commit to the way of living that I used to have. But, as I look at the picture again and again, I was convinced that I shouldn’t make any excuse when it comes to using products made from plastics unless it is really necessary. Misery like companies, though… (LOL) I meant I am happy to take action to curb the increasing amount of plastic waste by going back to the old habits. Yet, if I have the capacity to galvanise people to do the same and create a much bigger ripple effect, why shouldn’t I try? Alas, as my fellow Earth dwellers, I am urging you to rethink your purpose in life, your role in the society and the contribution you could bring to this world. If none of this call rings a bell for you, allow me to rephrase it, let’s be conscious about our impact on this world and let’s clean up this Earth from the plastic waste together!