Our planet is facing the worst ecological crisis in human history. Our egregious use of fossil fuels and non-renewable materials have pushed our planet’s ecosystem to its breaking point. We are all responsible. Each and every one of us is guilty, complicit. And now we ALL must fight to help save our planet.
For me the best place to start is plastic. Plastic has revolutionized the world. From its invention by John Wesley Hyatt in 1869 plastic has reached into every corner of our lives. I wonder what he would think if he could see the damage his invention is doing to our planet today? Roughly 300 million tonnes of waste is produced annually worldwide and only 10% of that is recycled. Waste and in particular plastic waste is being dumped into our rivers and oceans at a staggering rate.
There is a 1.6 million km2 mass of plastic waste floating in the Pacific Ocean. It is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) and according to scientific studies, it is growing at a staggering rate. In fact, it has grown so large that environmentalists called upon the United Nations to declare it a sovereign country. Even more troublingly, researchers at NUI Galway conducted research that found that over 70% of deep-water fish had consumed micro-plastic particles. These micro-plastics could possibly make their way up the food chain and eventually onto our plate. So, I’m sure all of you are thinking “oh that’s terrible, but what can I do?”
The answer is straightforward in concept but actually very hard in practicality. Cut down on the plastic you use. Roughly 1 million plastic bottles are sold every minute around the globe. Every Minute. Most plastic bottles are made from PET plastic (Polyethylene terephthalate) which is highly recyclable. Despite that less than half of that number of bottles were collected for recycling and less than 7% were recycled into new bottles.
The other 93% of litter in our parks and public areas, gets buried in landfills, make their way into our waterways and even into our food. By cutting down on the number of single-use plastic bottles we use, we can make a massive step towards protecting our planet. Buy a reusable water bottle, get a keep cup for your coffee in the morning and stop buying products packaged in excessive plastic.
As consumers, each one of us gets a vote. We vote with our wallets. When we scan items at the checkout we are casting a vote in favor of that product and environmental impact. If consumers refuse to purchase products with a poor environmental impact, multinational corporations will soon change their ways. We saw it happen with the Fairtrade movement. Commercial giants changing their suppliers because consumers stood up and demanded change. I will admit it’s tough. So much of what we buy contains plastic. There is little chance of us cutting it out altogether.
All I ask is that after reading this, you become more mindful of the impact you are having on your planet because it’s just that. YOUR planet.