Perhaps one of the most visually shocking things we’ve seen in a while was the image of a whale with its stomach full of plastic waste. It seems like a rare incident, something that happens once in a blue moon. But it’s not – the team who discovered the whale also found 57 other whales and dolphins who died after ingesting plastic. (You can view the video here)
Over and over, we’ve heard about the issue of our plastic waste: plastic takes 1,000 years to decompose; it’s become a growing problem; it’s threatening our marine life; we’re running out of landfill spaces – the list goes on and on. It is easy to ignore it because we can’t see it, but it is a huge problem. Over 91% of plastic isn’t recycled. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be a tonne of plastic for every tonne of fish. At least two-thirds of the world’s fish stocks suffer from plastic ingestion.
While corporations do play a big role in the consumption of plastic packaging, so do we. In the wise words of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” The Civil Rights Movement was made possible by a group of dedicated individuals. So was the Women’s suffrage. All the human rights that we enjoy? Also made possible by the petitioning of committed citizens. You too, can make a difference – and that is an important power to wield.
Shoppers use approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags annually; that’s a million every minute. The worst part? This figure is rising. There are so many things you can do to make a difference as an individual: minimise single-use plastics (do we really need that plastic straw?), give up gum (it contains synthetic rubber), bring your own reusable bag, reuse containers, bring your own cutleries etc. The solution is simple and intuitive, though it can be cumbersome at first. But the payoff is well worth the effort.
If not for the sake of our earth, do it for yourself at least. Whatever toxic materials dumped into the ocean or the earth will come back to you. Nearly a billion people rely on seafood as their primary source of protein – and it is likely that you too, eat seafood from time to time. Seafood with plastic inside? Take it from us: it ain’t delicious.