2017 - A Plastic-Free Year
2016 has come and gone. For better or worse. A new year has begun with new resolutions or ideas of what is good or right for your body, mind, or philosophy. My resolution is very important to me and maybe you too. It's a behavior that builds into a lifestyle focused on a major problem that is too often overlooked – eliminating single-use plastic in daily living.
What is single-use plastic?
Just to be clear, single-use plastic is the bag given at the grocery store, the straw in your drink at your favorite restaurant, the packaging of shower gel. It's what a lot of our stuff is made of as well as packaged in. It's a modern convenience that gained popularity after WWI due to cheap cost to produce, durability, lightweight, chemical properties, and moldability.
It's been an important part of my entire life and those of most folks. Make no mistake, plastic saves lives and makes living easier. Asbestos saves lives too. Like asbestos, plastic has serious and profound negative effects on our body and the environment.
Understand, breaking the habit of single-use plastic may not be easy, as modern society has us pretty set up to rely on plastic, however, with a clear understanding of WHY we need to break free, the HOW will become more clear. Creativity. Ingenuity. A growing plastic-free market. Activism. All good things on our side.
Being a millennial, the idea that you can impact the world positively is viral. It has become locked onto the makeup of my cells, multiplies, then explodes in an outpour of desire. A desire to look critically at what I can control - myself - and how a change of behaviors and thinking can do more good than we think.
We live in a changing world, built on evolution of creatures and relatively recently, thought. Human's have come a long way. Our brains and ability to use tools and technology for our advancement as a species has allowed domination of our world to the point of being out of touch. People can now survive without knowing where our food comes from, how things are made, without leaving our house, without interacting, without understanding environmental systems or science. We have become focused on a few things - be good enough to not get fired, to make income, to provide, and that's it. We have become comoditized and computerized. Where is our planetary focus? Where is the desire to harmonize our environment? To bring about social change?
I'm not saying we all have to escape to the forests and live without modern comfort, but we need to rethink our balance on earth and what we can individually do to solve (or at least help) growing environmental and social problems. We need to have an honest dialogue with our family and friends about how our day-to-day life impacts this balance.
Plastic and its ubiquitous use is both a social and environmental issue that is, has, and will continue to change our world in negative ways. It harms each and every one of us daily. No, it’s not like a bullet to the head, drinking caustic, or jumping off a building, but the effects are there, cumulative, persistent, and are building like an avalanche in your body and the environment. It harms creatures we know little about from bacteria to whales. It’s entering our streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans. It’s spread across the globe from the deep ocean trenches to the arctic. It doesn’t degrade like organics. It collects environmental toxins like PCBs, upwards of 1,000,000x the concentration of the surrounding water, and mimics the food of wildlife whom starve with bellies of plastic. Worse (for us), toxins bioaccumulate in the animals we eat and are transferred to us.
This is a problem for humanity and our natural world. It is behavioral and can be changed, one dollar at a time, one person at a time. If you haven’t figured it out by now, we live in society that is based on consumerism. Votes are given with dollars. The things we buy and the way we live support a web of ideals. Our decisions to buy products responsibly, looking beyond ourselves, will help change the status quo, eventually making other, more innovative and sustainable materials available.
Let’s have a look at our city and our life. What can change? What stores cater to a plastic-free lifestyle? What can we do? What techniques are available?
2017 has started and it’s time to jump in with both feet.