Our World is Getting Trashed

In light of Ocean Day, which was on June 8th, this blog post is about the plastic soup drifting in our waters. Waste is a global problem that is created by our consumer-culture and economy. A radical change of our industrial processes and individual mindset is needed; this is being advocated in numerous new ideologies and strategies like Biomimicry, Cradle-to-Cradle, Circular Economy, and Blue Economy. These approaches encourage recycling and re-use of wastes as inputs for other value chains.

Awareness is one key element to support a necessary mindset shift. This 2012 documentary, called Trashed, is a must-see. It is very confrontational, but left me feeling motivated to contribute a change effort! And even John F. Kennedy believes in me: “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”

It’s impossible to summarize this documentary, because I think every minute is important. Also, images can be much more powerful than words. So please take the time to watch it, but, here’s a teaser of some shocking facts covered in the documentary:

-       There is 6 times more plastic waste than life (i.e. zooplankton) in the surface waters of our oceans. Zooplankton is an essential organism, as it is at the bottom of our food chain, and produces large portions of the oxygen we breathe.

-       Plastic particles leach chemicals into our waters. This  attracts other chemicals making the substances even more dangerous. These small particles are being ingested by marine organisms and stored in their body fat. The further down the food chain, the worse the contamination gets. This effect is called bio-magnification.

-       Plastic is built to be long-lasting and this is great for durable products. The problem we’ve created is caused by throwing plastics away after one usage. We use it for several minutes, at best a few days, but the actual plastic is around for a very long time after disposal.

One difficulty is that people love their habits and are resistant to change. How many times have you thought before grocery shopping “This time I’ll try to buy something different!” But still, you come home with most of the same products you always buy. Almost all of these products are wrapped in plastic packaging, and in turn put in plastic bags. Both the package and the bag quickly end up in your garbage can. This gets picked up, and you don’t see or think about it anymore. BUT… you might be surprised, one day you could actually get back in touch with your plastic waste, albeit in a very different, disturbing form!

See here your plastic bag’s life: http://youtu.be/GLgh9h2ePYw

Let’s make it a challenge: try to not consume any new plastic product (packages, bags, cups, cutlery etc.) this week. You’ll quickly be amazed by how much plastic we are using; it’s everywhere! Even better, share some of your creative solutions for not using plastic. I start now! What about you? Let’s try making a new habit, together. This book could help us: The Power of Habit (by Charles Duhigg), it’s a great read!

 

Related info: Planet Ocean, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (freely available on YouTube), Midway, The Ocean Cleanup, Charles Moore’s TED talk: Seas of plastic

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