Yep. That's the truth (at the least the truth that seems to be taking shape between my ears these days).
I've been thinking about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch of late....
Lots of us seem to know it exists, and we are disgusted by it. Disgusted by us - humans who are disastrously trashing our planet.
And what are we going to do about it?
We are going to demand that Congress DO SOMETHING!
And our demands are going to be expressed in extremely powerful ways:
- Online petitions
- Facebook rants
- Lots and lots of outraged tweets
Oh yes. Those. Lots of them, lots of indignation, shared outrage, thank you Facebook Echo Chamber.
And yet, and yet...somehow those awful Congresspeople ignore the Will of the People. How can this be?
Time for more outraged and indignant rants and sarcastic memes on Facebook.
How ridiculous on two fronts:
1. Online "activism" is largely ineffective.
2. Politicians will only listen to us when we take action that demonstrates our seriousness.
And this is where we really fall short.
So you read about all the awful plastic clogging up our oceans, killing fish and whales and dolphins and....everything, really, just about everything.
And what do you actually do?
Do you change even one iota of the way you live your life? It doesn't seem that way to me. We bitch and moan for a while, and then watch Game of Thrones or go to Six Flags or buy another case of plastic bottled water.
And since we don't seem to be willing to make the smallest sacrifices in our lives, politicians know they can just keep on serving their real masters: lobbyists of corporations.
Let's face it: if you consume and discard plastic, it's going somewhere, and it's going to be nasty, no matter the location.
But if you don't consume that plastic, you will have not contributed to the problem. You will have not made things worse. And if millions of people did this same thing - took action in their life to change patterns of consumption - the impact would be enormous.
Here are some of the things I do to avoid plastic consumption:
1. I never, never, NEVER (well, hardly ever) buy plastic bottled water. And I especially never buy cases of plastic bottled water that is wrapped in plastic. How grotesque. Instead, buy a glass or stainless steel bottle and refill the damn thing, people.
2. I hardly ever buy processed food. I mostly buy food, like broccoli and fruit and eggs. Sure, they all require some processing. But nothing like buying a Lunchable. So gross.
3. I travel with a set of bamboo "silverware" so I can avoid using plastic-wrapped plastic forks and knives. I so detest those.
4. When I get ice cream, I get a cone: no need for a plastic dish, no plastic spoon. Of course, if I go to a lovely ice cream shop like Oberweis and eat my delight there, they use glass bowls and glasses and real silverware. So then I will treat myself to a milkshake or sundae. Yummy and no plastic.
5. I make my own yogurt instead of buying lots of plastic containers of the stuff. It's easy to do: just buy one of these.
6. I buy milk in reusable glass containers. Again, thanks Oberweis!
And there's more, but you get the idea. It mostly comes down to being more intentional about how you go through the day: think ahead, always carry your water bottle and bamboo silverware, just say no to treats that come in plastic that you do not really need to eat, etc.
If millions of humans took action like this, the amount of garbage going to landfills and into the ocean would decrease substantially.
With reduced demand, less plastic would be produced in factories, less pollution would be produced, etc.
But if you do not do things like this, if you direct your outrage to distant politicians who will never pay you attention and do not address some of that outrage at yourself, well...
Then the coral and whales and sharks and fish and birds and eventually even (dare I say it!) humans will suffer.
Bottom line: if you want politicians to change their behavior, first change yours.
That way, when they still don't give a rat's ass about you, at least you will have helped make the planet a little bit healthier.
Multiple by a million or a billion, and maybe the coral will notice.