We’ve all heard about the great garbage patches in the oceans of the world. These are a huge problem, causing catastrophic damage to marine life, the environment, and life earth as a whole. Of course we know these need to be eliminated, cleaned up, taken out of our oceans and dealt with properly. But is this really the solution? No, it isn’t, a problem must be stopped at the source, cleaning the resulting mess is only one piece of the puzzle. The real answer is to drastically lower and eventually eliminate the distribution and use of single use plastics. But how can we do this? Can corporations and governments change their practices, can big business (and small business) be more conscientious? They certainly can and in time hopefully they will!
There are thousands of companies, and changes they make can certainly contribute to global betterment. However, what drives the companies? It’s the consumers, the billions of consumers around the world, just like us, just like you. Now this is where the real change can really start to take place, as soon as today. The individual human, you, possessed of free will and able to make their own choices, is the single most common piece of this puzzle. Governments and corporations are big and complicated things, and often change comes very slowly, and usually out of necessity. Whereas a single person for instance, or a family, can make a decision about their lives and put it in to practice immediately.
So what decisions can we make to help the environment, the most common connection that all life on earth has? We are, at the end of the day, all one big team just hurtling through space. Perhaps take a small audit of your life, what things do you do or consume that contribute to global pollution, and is there another way you can accomplish the same goals with less impact? Take plastic straws for example, untold millions are used and discarded every day, and companies will keep making straws so long as people keep buying them. But are they our only option? Certainly not, straws come in all shapes, and sizes, and materials! Paper straws are better, they bio-degrade, but they still are single use, wooden and bamboo straws offer a reusable alternative but will to eventually wear out, glass is good but potentially dangerous, stainless steel straws, however, can last decades if treated properly!
Would you like a plastic bag with that? No! Surly you would prefer to use your own reusable bag made out of sustainable substance, such as cotton, just like this one! How many plastic eating utensils do we use once and throw away? Why not reuse a high quality set, like these! There are so many different little things we as individuals can change, right now, that can help to foster a lasting change for the good of us all. Even eating one less piece of meat a week, doing one less load of laundry a month, over a life time these things will add up to a tremendous amount of resources saved. Is it broken? Perhaps see if it can be fixed before buying a new one.
Take the first step, choose the sustainable alternative you want to start using from today. Start using it! Have you forgotten to take your bag with you? It is a learning experience and remember to take it the next time. Persist in what you do. Change takes time, but you will come closer to not having to think of it every time you do. Celebrate the moments that you skipped a straw or replaced a single-use item with your alternative. It’s the small steps that matter and will keep you going. You soon find yourself inspired to take the next step!
Change for the better can feel very good, it might even become addicting. Suppose you were to make one small change for the better, say for two weeks, how quickly that would add up, and how good that would feel! Now imagine one thousand people doing this, one million, a billion… Eventually there is a massive change, nearly unfathomable amounts of waste NOT being generated. When there is no more demand single use plastics, there will be no more manufactured, and no more making it into our oceans, and our drinking water, and our LIFE.