Plastic: why should we fear it? Updated: Dec 13, 2018

29th October 2018

12.7 million tonnes. To most, a figure that seems incomprehensible, abstract, a number that borders on alien. I can’t even picture or begin to formulate what 12.7 million tonnes looks like or feels like. That in fact is the amount of plastic waste within our oceans from the every day plastic water bottle to the Waitrose shopping bag. As horrifying as it sounds, plastic is only a small part of the problem.

Sure, the phenomenon of ‘helping the planet’ has been around for a fair few years now, through its regular appearance on social media and other informative outlets, so why does the every day person continue to waste? Waste another cubic metre of our sea, which will be engulfed by plastic. I put it down to the idea that many see no other viable alternative, as they’re not prepared to sacrifice their precedential thirst for ‘the good of the planet’. Also, many continue to buy palm-oil based commodities such as shampoo, which they know have consequential affects on animal habitats, instead of the palm-oil free option, because what can one person accomplish, right?

Many current politicians advocate helping the planet overcome issues of global warming as it continues to loom over each everyone’s head as a terrorizing ultimatum. But what separates the threat of global war and global catastrophe? Establishment. To many world leaders, the idea of war brings panic to mind, but its essence is not unknown, it is established as a possible outcome of conflict, with it most likely resulting in death, famine and national economic depreciation. Global warming’s threat is unprecedented and has not been established, and what does man fear more than anything else? The fear of the unknown.

The child-like style of a recent advertisement for “Iceland”, which depicts the destruction of an orangutan’s habitat in South America as the palm-oil industry expands through the rainforest perfectly summarises the issue.

Iceland’s banned Christmas advert

Francois Hollande claims “We have a single mission: to hand over the planet to the next generation”. A perfect promotion some may say. You may be reading this with an air of confusion – the advertisement was scrapped days before being shown. (Believe me I’m as mystified as you are.) It’s inconceivable to me that a reforming, educational, crucial, topical ad could be ‘banned’. As a section of the younger generation within society I myself can only stress the power of the youthful voice. I may sound dramatic when I ask you to try to make the right decisions, but maybe try only using paper straws, buy plastic only when necessary and if it’s not too strenuous, walk instead of getting the bus… I know I’m asking a lot. Believe it or not, it may just accomplish something.


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