I was standing in line at a 7-Eleven the other day. There were four people in front of me, all buying single items, and everyone of them accepted the plastic bag offered. As each one said yes, I could feel my anxiety building. I wanted to say: SAY NO!! PLEASE SAY NO!!! Just one of you say no. Give me some hope here and start a trend of saying no!
But no one did and when I watch people taking plastic bags, or even if I’m forced to take a plastic bag myself – because there is no other option, and trust me, it’s extreme for me to be in that situation these days – I feel sick to my stomach.
It creates a level of deep despair, and it’s hard to verbalize that feeling. I suppose it’s similar to watching someone being abused in public. I step in then too, if I don’t think I’ll make the situation worse for the victim, which happens a lot!
The victim I am supporting here is Mother Earth and all of her precious creatures, but the truth us, she is not a victim. She has infinite patience and once we abuse her too much, she’ll boot us out. Our warnings from the Great Mother started many years ago, and we continue to ignore her at our peril.
So why are so many still not paying attention?
With single use plastic, like you, I see the stories of whales being washed up dead, with stomach’s full of plastic bags, and I see the outrage expressed by all of us across social media. But we’re not expressing the same outrage towards what causes it.
Excess and unnecessary waste. Far too much plastic, which continues to grow, and this waste can no longer be contained. We are all living in a dump now. Every single one of us. It’s revolting what we have allowed to happen.
I watch the day-to-day exchanges in shops all over the world, and in many countries especially in Asia, it’s completely out of control. Worse, we are not giving it a second thought and THAT is what must change. I want everyone to feel sick to the stomach when they have to accept a plastic bag, or a bottle of water, or any unnecessary plastic packaging. I want them to grasp that every time we do, we are contributing to the problem.
Even when we are in need of the plastic, I want us to feel sick about it! Because it is out of control! Do you know what the average use of plastic bags reported around Asia is? Eight plastic bags/person/day!!
Do you know the population of Asia today? 4.55 billion!
Let’s say we are getting to the point where every person in Asia uses eight plastic bags/day. Some maths…
4,550,000,000 billion x 8 x 365 = 13,286,000,000,000 trillion plastic bags into the environment – just in Asia – EVERY SINGLE YEAR!
You see we can’t keep going, right? Plastic dependency has to go! And not just plastic bags, but we must extensively cut the use of all consumer plastic. All of it. The pollution in the world is already bad. Imagine how bad it’s going to be if it gets as bad as this maths indicates? And we’re well on the way!!!!
Getting back to the story
The final customer in front on me, a lady, is buying a loaf of bread. She is with an elderly man in a wheelchair and hanging off the back of the wheelchair is a shopping bag that’s not full. She takes the plastic bag on offer, and as gently as I can I say: do you need the plastic bag? Can’t you just put the bread in this bag – indicating the bag on the wheelchair.
This poor lady turns bright red. She is so embarrassed, and the man in the chair obviously doesn’t want a fuss, so indicates to the lady to put the bread in his bag.
I didn’t want to embarrass her. It’s the last thing I ever want to do to anyone, but I am yet to find a way to say this without causing some level of embarrassment. And that’s concerning, because it stops me saying anything at all, because losing face is never a good thing in Asia.
I also certainly don’t want them to think I’m some arrogant colonial telling them how to live their lives. Far from it! I want this magnificent part of the world to shine, which it can, but the sheer scale of population across Asia will always be our biggest challenge here – especially when it also takes the world’s waste!! That must stop.
Oh don’t worry, China stopped taking it, and now Malaysia, the Philippines and others are stepping into this filthy, corrupt industry. Every country must take responsibility and face its own waste crisis. If they don’t, the problem is moved, but the impact is still global, no matter where it goes. There is no away.
I just want the plastic dependency to stop.
I really do. I ache with pain at what we’ve done to the world with plastic, Styrofoam, pollution and more. I know many others do too. To change things, we need everyone feeling this ache. You can’t stand by and do nothing when this feeling takes you over. It’s impossible.
Because I desperately want the creatures of the oceans to stop dying of starvation because the plastic takes up all the space in their stomachs. If I want that change to happen, I cannot continue to use plastic bags. I also must clean the beaches, and I am attempting to go deeper into waste solutions too.
I want our children to swim in clean oceans. Just like I did.
I want to see clean oceans, mountains, rivers and more. I grew up with this, it’s worth fighting for.
I want birds to stop feeding their young small pieces of plastic, which kills them, because they starve too. And this is happening in places thousands of miles from human habitation.
I don’t want to see walruses falling to their deaths off cliffs they should never climb, because the land space for them is reducing.
I want to watch Sir David Attenborough and not hide the tears of despair from my sons, because I can’t let them see me lose hope.
I want to reverse the 6th mass extinction and climate warming. I want to be part of the solution, but until everyone really starts to think about what we are facing, well we just can’t get there.
So please, join me. We are running out of time.
Follow-up at 7-Eleven
I was back in the 7-Eleven a couple of days later. I named and shamed 7-Eleven on Instagram for the individual bananas wrapped in plastic? This is common in 7-Eleven’s all over Asia and it infuriates me. Just this needs to stop.
|Individually packed, in every 7-Eleven!!|
But I spoke to the guy behind the counter when he offered me a bag for my two things.
Please, don’t offer bags to customers. Make them ask for it. I have two hands. I can carry two things.
He said: but the customers really want the bags. It’s hard to say no to them!! We go through four packets of plastic bags a day. And then he showed me the bag dispenser. Think of a huge tissue box for plastic bags. And from just this one shop, they give out thousands a day.
I asked him if he knew how long plastic bags lasted in the environment? He didn’t know.
So I told him estimates vary between 10-1,000 years, but even a bag that breaks down after 10 years does not break down, it just becomes smaller pieces of plastic. So don’t be fooled by shorter lifetime claims from plastic producers my friends. Plastic NEVER breaks down!!
Equally, because the plastic bag industry is only 50 years old, we still have no definitive timescale that it’s even possible it will ever break down. Scary right? Especially when we know that 100 per cent of all marine life have microplastics in their bodies today already – AAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!
With the rate of plastic pollution set to double by 2030 – please, build community awareness and pressure your government to bring into law ASAP an end to Single Use Plastic. This is the best way to achieve massive reductions – laws that take it out of the system. If we can’t get people thinking, we need governments acting. I’ve been trying the single-person approach for a couple of decades and well, it doesn’t seem to be working.
It sure does entertain Steve though, as I try to communicate around the world, with my Australian accent, that no one understands….
Some good news just in! Almost every country in the world agrees deal to cut plastic pollution – except US. Change is happening. Let’s get on board.
There is no doubt us humans have made a big bloody mess, and now we must clean it up!! We need to turn it all around, because we have built an infinite economy that can not continue when we live on a finite world.
Are you in?
Also, any suggestions on how I can raise this issue with complete strangers without embarrassing them? I hate doing that. I never want to embarrass anyone. But to ensure that I and others don’t have to, #JustSayNoToSingleUsePlastic. Please.
Big love, and yours, without the bollocks
Thank you for reading my ramblings. My brain and heart are a work in progress, always. I’d love a comment if it stirred any thoughts or feelings and of course, please feel free to share it with anyone you know who might be interested or entertained. I sure do appreciate it when you do. If you want to connect, I’m on Twitter here, Instagram here, YouTube here, and Facebook too. I share loads of stuff, not just my own xxxxx
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