Plastic Pollution, A New Religion ?
It is a warm, sultry summers day in September. The sun is soaking up the sweat from my skin so I head out of Finsbury Park and walk to a near by cafe. The barrister greets me with wide eyes and a trying smile. Her hair is dirty blonde and unstyled like Einstein. Her face is set heavy with days worth of crumbling powder. She quietly asks me if I would like anything to drink . I reply,
“An iced, decaf, soy mocha-choca-latte please”
After six minutes of watching her hastily pace in and out of the kitchen, aimlessly twisting knobs on the coffee machine, she hands me my drink. Her smile is unmoved, her eyes do not blink.
“That’s £4 please”
The drink sloshes down my hand as I go to take a big sip, at that moment I come to realise It’s served in a plastic cup with a paper straw. I can not help but think that is like removing one mouse out of a house that is infested. The problem has not been taken away nor have the correct preventative measures been put in place to insure the stability of the house.
I sit down with my coffee and wonder, is plastic pollution for a majority of people more of a fictitious belief as opposed to it being a routine lifestyle change?
It is important when answering this question to recognise the changes, we as a society, have made in the past. In October 2015 after campaigns such as Keep Britain Tidy were released, a 5p charge on single use plastic bags was implemented. This resulted in the distribution of single use plastic bags being dropped by 86 % in 2017/18.
By raising public awareness, a collective decision was made which created a positive change. This shows that when people are aware of the negative impacts plastic waste has on our environment they want to support alternative solutions.
This outcome has more recently been concluded again. On the 22 May 2019 Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirmed the there would be a ban on the the sale of plastic straws unless they are required for certain medical conditions. This came about after 80% of respondents agreed to the straw ban.
There are much bigger changes that can be tackled by our society. Single use plastic food and beverage containers make up a majority of plastic ocean pollutants, disposable coffee cups are a small part of that contamination.
In 2011 a 'Which? Report' discovered that in the UK 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are used daily. This creates 30,000 tonnes of coffee cup waste each year. Investment needs to be made in more sustainable packaging solutions.
Many new ideas to replace plastics are slowly making their way into the mainstream, they can provide the consumer with a more environmentally positive choice. With more and more young people choosing not to believe in religion, perhaps for the future of our planet we should invest our daily consciousness into something else, such as, actively nurturing our environment and making changes to consume less single use plastics.
Paula Rust once wrote - “One’s personal choices reveal or reflect one’s personal politics; one should make personal choices that are consistent with one’s personal politics; personal life and personal politics are indistinguishable,”
As living, breathing human beings we all have a role to play in protecting our environment. It is time for us to fully embrace routine changes and make choices that will benefit the future of humanity and the sources that provide us with the very fundamentals of life.