Plastic. Aka the zeitgeists new enemy. It’s the latest trend to hit the feeds and lips of the millennial radar with every news story, company and blogger getting in on the hype. I’m personally thanking Davey A for the thought provoking, a la Blue Planet. The sooner he becomes King of the World, the better. Since that series hit our screens it seems there’s been a surge in discussing the big P, all its issues and finally waging a war on its production.
This week mircobeads have been banned from all beauty products (YAS). Pret will give you 50p off your coffee just for whipping out a reusable cup (and using it, obvs). My office are buying in a ton of stainless steel bottles to give out at a reduced price to try and stop everyone buying so many single-use plastic ones. There have been a slew of spreads about ‘the best recycled products to try’ and handy tips for reducing your plastic usage in everyday life.
Great. Lovely. It’s happening. Finally. We’re taking notice. Recycling is crawling its way out of the hackneyed, hemp-wearing hippy town and into ‘it’s cool to care about the planet’ ville. The wheels, which are probably made of plastic, are in motion.
But sadly, I think this hype is because we’ve realised, actually, fuck, we’ve already done too much damage, let’s try and stop this now to make it look like we tried when we are carving tiny cities out of landfills. But we’re also only at like 2% of what we need to be doing.
But who is this ‘we’?
I’m not talking ‘we’ as in us, as in society. I’m talking ‘we’ as in the higher powers: the conglomerates.
We’re the ones being yelled and screamed at in shouty caps across the socials and every white noise-ish platform to REDUCE YOUR PLASTIC USEAGE TODAY. Yes, great, I want to do that. Let me just go to my local to stock up on fresh, plastic-less produce. Oh, wait.
The plastic state of our society is akin to saying “Oh heck, little Jimmy is getting a chub on, he needs to stop eating so much” and then giving him a quarter pounder with a side of Brucey’s choccy cake to wash it down with.
We physically can’t help ourselves if it’s there in front of us, and it’s cheaper than the alternative.
We are lazy. We are busy. We can only care as much as ‘they’ let us care.
What we need to do, what we should have done a long time ago is take tips from countries that do it best.
When I lived in New Zealand, I was poor and scoffing their $5 Dominoes (it’s not the same) because when you stepped into a supermarket hoping for a quick tagliatelle to stick in the microwave you were greeted with nothing but local goods and the usual long-life stuff.
There were like 3 ready meals in the whole bloody shop.
This was kind of annoying for like 5 minutes, but then I got on, bought some fresh bits and cooked it. I didn’t plonk myself down and wail, ‘BUT THE TAGLIATELLEEEE, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?!’.
My point is: We’re being given convenience on a plate far too much, and that wouldn’t matter, but the plate is made of plastic, and that’s bad.
We need to subtly but sternly slip the line ‘it’s not us, it’s you’ not to plastic, but to the conglomerates. The big guys. M&S, I’m looking at you.
We can’t help it, as much as we try and knuckle down to change our lifestyle and reduce the demand for plastic, nothing is going to happen unless they do something too. We are not sitting in a room ordering the next batch of death bags to protect our precious food from touching other bits of food, or heaven forbid a strangers finger (*cough I’m sure some farmers scratched his nuts and picked that avocado up with his grubby hands when it was being harvested anyway cough*).
It would be nice if we all still harvested our own crop, if we made shampoo out of flowers, if we realised ‘no, I don’t really need that inflatable unicorn’, or fourth straw shaped like a penis, or slushie maker, but we’re not, because it’s all right there and we’re fickle.
I look at smokers and think, ‘why would you voluntarily kill yourself slowly with cigarettes?’ Well, it’s the same with the planet. We are slowly, consciously and irreversible suffocating the world.
I bet the other planets are watching us like their version of Big Brother, but the show is called ‘How quickly can earth fuck itself up with manmade materials, so that the people currently there can laugh at a mass-produced, completely useless item for three minutes, throw it away and effectively kill a person in the not so distant future’.
For want of a better, less crack-like analogy: Britain, right now, is one big drug deal. We are the customers, the supermarkets are the dealers and it’s the suppliers who need to cut off the source. Once this happens, we’ll truly be able to start living a plastic-free life. Until then, we’re going to keep buying it, sadly and unfortunately.
Let’s hope this isn’t just a fad. Let’s hope our interest in change is noticed by the ones that can actually stop it trickling down to our shops, because this isn’t just up to us. Not really.