June 6, 2019

Before plastic, there was life
Author:
Alya
Babkina-Mottet

Prelude

Tell me what success is for you. Take a small break and note down 2–3 words that would mean that you are successful…

Got them? Now let me express my stance here: whatever we identify as our success, what matters most is actually an outcome of it.

Success may mean defending PhD, owning USD 10 million, raising healthy children, holding position of an art director, etc. However, what matters most is what happens with it. Will your PhD be in use? Will your USD 10 million be lost in a bad deal? Will your healthy kid end up a climate migrant?  Or will your company where you are an art director go bankrupt?

Some time ago I came to the conclusion that success for me is not where I aspire to be, but rather what I leave behind: when I am a parent – I care if my child brings good to this world; when I am a manager – I aspire for my team to perform without me; when I live in well-being – I am interested in contributing to sustain it, etc.

And further observation is that success is inevitably and invisibly interconnected with the state of the environment we live in: we tend to be successful, although we cannot possibly be if there is nothing to breathe. Environment is our health system. We take it for granted and do not notice it while it is friendly. However, at the moment it drastically deteriorates – our priorities shift alongside.

Chapter 1. Plastic Era. Is it the end or just beginning?

Humankind has been evolving for thousands of years. First, we learned how to use wood, stone, fire, metal. Then we discovered how to extract oil from the bowels of the Earth, we invented nanomedicine, 3D printers and AI.

However, not all our creations end up well for our descendants. Even though plastic is a great invention that helped us find alternative long-living raw material, we managed to make this invention top worst. Why? Beyond all possible reasons of its damage, we made it disposable.

In nowadays’ life we use it everywhere, from a plastic shopping bag to trendy gadget accessories, and are we proud of it? This is the blossom of Plastic Era. Enter any shop, from a kid’s toy market to a grocery store. What do you see? Dozens of colors trying to win your eye, hundreds and thousands of kilos of package that we actually do not need. Who to blame? Marketing experts? Producers? Consumers?

Well, it doesn’t matter anymore. The one suffering most is you and me, wild animals, our planet, we, altogether as a human race. We use, we consume, we throw away. On a daily basis, we do not even realize all the dimensions of the damage we cause.

Sad, but no time to go into emotions. Right now, it is the time to actually do something about it.

We are what we leave behind. The solution so far is simple: educate producers – do not buy their plastic, refuse cheap one-use goods, be a conscious buyer (not consumer), do not think “if-it-has-already-been-produced-someone-has-to-use-it”. No. We are here to stop this mentality: you do not take, your friends and family will not, and so the demand will decline – slowly, but surely. And most important: when purchasing something, think and measure what you leave behind right after.

Chapter 2.019. But what about our comfort?

Imagine yourself 15 years ago. Make a virtual tour to your neighborhood shop to buy some bread and cheese, go home (do some cleaning, throw away your trash), then go to your parent’s work and see how lunch was served. Was it so inconvenient?

Now it is 2019, everything has changed: no cleaning dishes after take-away lunch and street coffee, no bringing your own bags to shops, no control on excessive packaging for goods and gifts, pure comfort – everything is given to us overly and at an instant.

It sounds like the world has become ultraconvenient until we get to see the landfills around the city. By the way, have you seen one?

Today we pack our purchases in plastic, tomorrow our children play in the nature among landfills.

Chapter 3.0. Nevertheless, X, Y, Z

We are children of XXI century, we are the generation of unstoppable solutions, ideas, fast move of information and possibilities. We are the contemporaries for conscious actions and decisions. It is you and me who can sort out our dubious future together, because solutions already exist.

  • It is our generation who consciously reduces its meat and dairy consumption (because cattle eat ¾ of total crops produced and emit unbelievable amounts of gases).
  • It is us who refuse superfluous package in shops and prefer our own containers and cups instead (because we produce 2 billion tons of trash annually for 7 billion people; because 99% or our purchases end up in a landfill within 6 months; because human trash already reached Mount Everest and Mariana Trench).
  • It is us who rethink travelling by plane on long distances for Instagram fun (because airplane CO2 emissions are the most ozone-killing).
  • It is us who knowingly refuse imported goods and prefer locally produced items (because some of these products cause incredible harm for their mass production like avocados or palm oil, not talking about their transportation dark karma).
  • It is us who care which chemicals we use for cleaning (because the stronger they are and the more we use them, the more water and soil get poisonous).
  • It is us who have the power today to change tomorrow.

Think of those 3 words you noted down that mean success to you. Do you remember them?

Let’s achieve our successes! … and leave behind a healthy place when we are done!

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