A Plastic-Free Life
Nowadays plastic is in everyone’s mind. Thanks to docu-series such as “Blue Planet 2”, movements such as #zerowaste, articles about the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” and other news that have raised awareness about the animals and communities that have been affected by plastic pollution. There is no doubt that this material is affecting us, to the point that it is very likely that most of us already have traces of plastic in our bloodstream, diminishing the use of plastic is necessary.
However, the question is: Can we live a Plastic Free Life?
July is the perfect month to raise this question on a personal level, from a while now this is a month where people are challenged to live a plastic-free life. I think is an amazing movement, because a lot of people feels encouraged to take that challenge and evaluates the impact it has on their daily activities. I think the most important thing is that people start to question about their habits and the system that (for the most part) does not support the transitions people want to make towards a life that is sustainable and free of plastic.
Simple answers to complex issues
However, it is possible that the answers to these questions do not solve all our environmental, economic and social issues. I have been a very curious person my whole life, and I always tend to question everything I learn. This does not make my life easier, because in my mind I am constantly thinking whether I am doing the right thing or not (and that can be exhausting). This is what makes me wonder about the simple answers we give to the complex issues we have, an example of this is plastic pollution.
The impact we have
It is important to recognise that the world we live in is interconnected and whilst the human being lives on this planet it will continue to generate an impact. Because we are consuming natural resources to produce plastic, paper, glass, etc. Everything that we do has an impact on nature, don’t be fool by simplistic solutions.
We are incapable of appreciating plastic…
One of the most interesting things about studying geochemistry was when I discovered where the plastic came from. I will not extend to explain the step by step, but knowing that millions of years ago several vegetable residues started to accumulate in one place and gave origin to a black liquid that scientists search for, extract, transform and transport, only to be used once by us humans and then it gets thrown away in the rubbish (possibly ending in the ocean) it is unbelievable…and disappointing when we think about how incapable we are to appreciate the effort it took to create that product.
…and any other natural resource
Now, the issue is not only that we treat plastic like this. Glass, paper and other materials also take a lot of effort to produce and the “alternatives” to plastic (I.e. Biodegradable containers that are plant-based) do not escape this behaviour. The focus here has got to be “stop consuming so much” (of everything), be mindful about what we consume, use our creativity to take advantage of what we have. Remember the order of the Rs? Right…the first ones are a call to action to diminish our consumeristic behaviour:
We need to continue to find ways to avoid generating rubbish, which is nothing more than a concept invented by us (humans) that have developed a linear system that does not take advantage of all of the resources we have.
Nobody has a perfect plastic-free life
I am still very far far far away to achieve a plastic-free life and to be honest, I doubt of those that say they have a completely plastic-free life (as you can see my mind is always full of doubts). The reasons for this are plenty, which I will start sharing in future posts (I hope it does not take me too long to write them). If anything, I hope this post leaves you thinking about something, whether you are a person who has completed the #plasticfreejuly or you are committed to living sustainably, I want you to question the systems that push us to consumeristic behaviours, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I need a new plastic-free bottle, or can I use a container that I already own?
- Should I throw all my plastic bags and change them for brand new tote bags? Or can I use the bags that I own without consuming other products that were also a result of extracting other natural resources?
- How can we change the system? *
* PS: For this last question the answers are complex because there are many barriers that exist and that go beyond why to use or not a plastic bag. But we must educate ourselves to understand this better. Which is why I am inviting you to Polly’s conference “Beyond the Plastic Bag”. Polly has invited individuals that will share their experiences and knowledge about other sustainability areas that invite us to see the interconnections between the plastic problems and other environmental, economic and social issues (Polly has invited me to participate in this conference, so you will see me talking in English with my Latino accent haha).
Sending you all good vibes!