“Paper or plastic?”
This familiar question has been firmly entrenched in our lives—but when did this happen? Being only 24 years young, I can’t even remember a time when this wasn’t asked, as plastic was introduced to our world before I was even a thought in my parents’ minds.
Although I wasn’t around when plastic was first invented, my grandmother was. Longing to understand how the toxic relationship between society and plastic began, I asked my grandmother if she could explain to me what life was like before plastic.
Her response told a story of a much simpler time.
She couldn’t remember when the use of plastic became a social norm. She said, “It just happened. When I went shopping, I simply started getting asked ‘paper or plastic?’” And boom, just like that, corporations planted plastic into our lives, and it became deeply rooted in our culture.
The dominating socio-economic system of plastic consumption has become so embedded into our nature that most of us don’t think twice about how we got here. We continue to exist within this system even though it’s compromising the health of our planet.
Who really benefits from the ongoing use of plastic bags? Corporations, corporations, corporations. As we continue to consume plastic, these corporations reap large profits, and our planet suffers. We need to stop letting these leading corporations compromise the health of our Earth. We desperately need a dose of awareness because our world has essentially become disposable.
Our choice of plastic deeply affects Mother Earth. Let this fact sink in: Plastic doesn’t biodegrade. But where is all this pollution hiding if it doesn’t ever break down and return to the earth? Unfortunately, our oceans accumulate most of it. At least eight million tons of plastic enter our oceans each year, and that number continues to rise.
This discarded plastic is continuously impacting marine organisms worldwide, and we must do something about this.
More and more, our society has indirectly altered entire ecosystems by putting our own desires first, without ever thinking of the outcomes on the environment. This issue requires a global and comprehensive solution that includes systematic rethinking.
We are beginning to see this: Across the world, as the reality of the effects of plastic has become better known, countries have begun to prioritize environmental action. The fight against plastic bags has begun, as over 20 countries have implemented bans on them. Just two weeks ago, Kenya joined this list and also placed a ban.
How can we continue to expand these efforts worldwide? We need to engage in conversations around this topic. We are the main factor that needs to change, and we adapt when we are actively engaged with one another.
By empowering each other and holding ourselves accountable for consumption of plastic material, we can collectively become more conscious consumers and citizens.
To achieve prosperity in our communities, we need to commit to strong civic engagement and empower one another to use less.
“The planet doesn’t need more successful people, but it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane.” ~ David Orr
Let’s be those peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers that Orr so vividly explains. Let’s make waves of change, for all the mermaids out there.
Author: Lauren Figueroa
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Callie Rushton