Does the Plastic Situation of Our Planet Make You Feel as Hopeless as Me?
This post contains no actionable information. I’m not even asking you to do any personal introspection (though that would be great). All I need you to do commiserate with me, or at least try to make me feel better. Because when I think about the plastic situation our world is facing, I lose so much faith in humanity. And “no matter what we do, it’s not going to be enough.” That the damage is already irreversible.
“Stop using plastic grocery bags.”
Seems so simple. Buy a cloth bag, bring it to the store, bypass the plastic one at checkout. — And then you notice the person in front of you is using separate plastic bags for each of the 5 items they bought. And so is everyone else in the lanes next to you.
“Stop using plastic produce bags.”
Again, easy enough to do. There’s plenty of reusable bags available to buy on Amazon, or you can even make your own out of fabric. Sure, you’ll pay 0.009 cents more because it weighs more than a plastic one, but that’s not a big deal.
- And then you see people putting pineapples, bananas, and coconuts in individual plastic bags. Like, what the fuck? Are you going to eat the shell of a coconut or the bark of a pineapple? What the fuck do you need a bag for?
- In Spain, they ENCOURAGE you go to handle all the produce with plastic gloves. One time, I actually got yelled at for not using one. I just smiled and nodded like I didn’t understand and kept raw-dogging it.
- Also, in some stores, they force you to use produce bags. Sometimes you can get “lucky” and they’ll let you combine multiple items in one bag, but a lot of the times they won’t let you buy the item unless each type goes in a different bag. Right, cuz my green pepper needs to be separated from the red pepper.
“Go to a local beach clean up.”
This one is a little better. At least you’re doing something on the local level. You’ll make the beach look better for at least the next 6 hours.
Which is depressing to think it only takes that long to look like shit again. And who’s doing that? Other humans. As if this problem isn’t their problem.
It also stings to think that, “great, I just picked up six, 50 gal. bags worth of trash and plastic….but what did that do for the giant floating plastic island that’s estimated to be the size of Texas (at the smallest) or as large as Russia (at the biggest).
“Buy reusable cups and straws.”
Again, at least you’re doing something. But then you have social media influencers with 10’s or 100’s of thousands of followers showing off their daily Starbucks, Boba tea, or smoothie in a single-use, disposable cup with lid with straw.
“Hehe, I know I shouldn’t, but I just can’t live without my boba tea! Don’t worry, I recycle every single time. <insert cute, giggly emojis cuz that makes it better>”
Awesome. Tell me again how much recycling actually works: “In 2014, Americans discarded about 33.6 million tons of plastic, but only 9.5 percent of it was recycled and 15 percent was combusted to create electricity or heat.”
Or you have this idiot that says you should replace your plastic bottles with more plastic bottles.
“You know, a melted down plastic bag is only the size of a pea.”
Yeah, I know. Look how well that’s working out for us:
- “WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water“
- And that doesn’t include other products that come in plastics, or how they affect marine life, our food sources, or even our drinking water that comes from the tap.
“But I don’t live anywhere near the ocean.”
Cool. Because I’m sure that floating island of plastic was only created from the population living in coastlines and not the other 80% of the world.
What Can We Do?
As you can see, I really don’t know. It feels hopeless. Even if we all, 100% of the entire world, went plastic-free (which is really fucking hard even on an individual level), what do we do about the stuff that’s already here?
It’s penetrating the most remote areas of the world.
Even if we try to lead by example at the grocery store, how do we get people to stop touching pineapples with plastic gloves to put in a plastic bag to put in another plastic bag at checkout?
How many 50 gal trash bags (which are ironically made of plastic) do we need to collect?
While I strive to make daily choices that remove plastic from my life as well as “call-out” others that don’t, I just feel like I need to do something bigger. I don’t know what that is though. Even if I put together the most awesome marketing campaign ever that reached a million people, it’s still not enough. What about the other billions and billions and billions that didn’t see it?
And you know the saddest part about all of this? The rabbit hole of misery and dismay goes far beyond this. I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the issues that surround plastic. There’s plenty more to list and discuss.
I know that doing some small action is better than nothing, or worse, continuing to contribute more, but what on earth, as a humanity, can we do to stop this on a massively large scale?
The Only Thing I Can Think Of
It is my dream one day to start a crowd-funding campaign that will sponsor an entire Ocean Cleanup Unit. (Read more about the entire project here.) Sure, donating $5 or $10 here and there is something, but what about $5 million?! Then I’d feel pretty good about myself.
But what would you do? Or what DO you do? Let me know below and cheer up my day. Please.