Do we need a miracle to happen to save our planet from this miracle material?
Can we enjoy this plastic and have a clean environment?
These are only two of several questions which are currently being analysed and discussed by many people across the globe: scientists, environmentalists, politicians, companies, citizens and most importantly teachers, parents and children… the future guardians of our planet who have inherited this mess! But can it truly be that bad? One thing is clear: whilst some people still deny climate change, there are no ocean plastic deniers: the problem is in clear sight! But what are the facts?
Since the 1950s, we have produced approximately 8.3 billion tons of plastic and can you believe it, half of this plastic made was produced in the last 15 years! At least 8 million tonnes (that is 18 billion pounds) of plastics leak into the ocean each year; the equivalent to dumping the contents of one waste removal truck into the ocean per minute! A trillion plastic bags with an average “working life” of just 15 minutes are used worldwide each year, which mostly end up in our oceans and if no action is taken, there will soon be more plastic than fish in the sea. Nobody knows how long it truly takes for plastic to degrade, estimates range from 450 years to forever? When they eventually degrade, they break down into tiny particles and release chemicals harmful to our planet and health.
So is plastic, all in all, the ‘devil’s’ material? Well, according to Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence, we must not forget that “plastics aren’t inherently bad.” “It’s what we do, or don’t do, with them that counts”. As researchers have pointed out, plastics helped the Allies win World War II, eased travel into space, revolutionised medicine; today this lightweight, strong and inexpensive miracle material helps keep hearts beating and planes in the air.
So what can we do? And will a tiny change of a consumer switching to paper straws or refusing plastic cups or buying fresh vegetables at the market make a difference? Well, one person alone will not be able to save the planet but collectively, even the tiniest individual steps, will create a powerful movement and trigger companies and governments to change their behaviour; it will force politicians to implement proper rules and regulations around the production, consumption, and recycling of plastics (less than a fifth of all plastics gets recycled globally). It will force businesses to eventually only design products which can be re-used, recycled or safely enter the environment. The solution lies in the creation of a circular economy. We need to move beyond a culture of single use. So every consumer can and needs to take steps to reduce their plastic ‘footprint’ and drive change personally and collectively. Only together we will be able to effect real change!
Let’s remember, the natural world is our most precious resource, and the most powerful legacy we can leave to the next generation. Our world faces an uncertain future, and we want to make sure it is a brighter, greener one for children today, and their children tomorrow. Let’s start change now, however small! It will make a difference!
In line with this spirit, TINCTURE’s team have decided to sign up to the Plastic Free Campaign which challenges one to “choose to refuse” single use plastic. This amazing campaign was started by a handful of participants in Western Australia and has resulted in millions of participants across more than 150 countries worldwide.