Plastic is everywhere.
“Put your rubbish in the bin!” I am constantly telling my 3-year-old daughter. “You should never leave your rubbish on the floor”, as I think to myself I am teaching her the right thing. After all, that’s what was always drilled into us at school – don’t litter!
Not the right thing.
After my latest read, I am now thinking to myself, why does she have rubbish to begin with?
I used to think I played my part when it came to disposing rubbish. I recycled what was recyclable and I even had a compost bin for fruit and vegetable scraps. However, I never gave much consideration into what happens to the rest of the garbage that gets taken by the truck each week. I have since realised I am not alone in this. I also never considered what resources went into creating everything that I was throwing out. Or, how fruit and vegetables gain their nutrients from the soil they grow in, which gets depleted when overused – I will elaborate on this one another time.
Growing up in suburbs and cities, we become so utterly detached from the bigger picture. We are simply a small arc of the full circumference. We buy whatever we want from wherever we want and throw it out when we are done with it. We all live in a community and play our individual part, so it is not necessary to know how the full circle works. However, our “community” is so big that, most of the time, we don’t even know the full name of our next-door neighbour let alone where anything we consume comes from or where it goes once we’re finished with it. If you’re wondering ‘why would we need to know these things?’ The answer is another childhood lesson.
We need to know how our actions affect others.
We need to know the resources that go into creating the plastic wrappers and what problems it causes for our planet. We need to know what processes our clothing went through before we found it and thought it might be something comfortable, stylish and appropriate to wear to work. We need to be mindful of the countless plastic toys our children ask for as the new craze hits the school playground.
Most of all, we need to teach our children to look at the bigger picture.
Don’t teach them to put rubbish in the bin. Teach them how to avoid having rubbish to begin with. Teach them how to shop at an organic bulk foods store, to store staples in reusable glass jars and to make as many consumables as they can from scratch.
It feels strange to us because it’s different. If you are someone who doesn’t like change, the good news is, it’s only different once.
Yes, plastic is everywhere. But it doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. One step at a time, there will be less and less as we all contribute in whatever way we can.
As Anita Vandyke stated in ‘A Zero Waste Life’, “When people ask me, ‘What is the hardest part of living a zero waste life?’ I always say the same thing – it’s that I can no longer be ignorant of the state of our planet.”
Ignorance is bliss until it slaps you in the face.
Then suddenly you’re alert, wide-eyed and filled with perspective.