We all know someone who is boycotting McDonald’s because of their new paper straws, and while it seems like a revolutionary step towards a cleaner Earth, the reality is far from it.
It appears that a lot of food establishments are ‘eco-friendly’ because of this new trend, but they fail to consider the fact that their plastic packaging and the carbon footprint left from the use of animal products are bigger parts of a wider problem.
Single-use plastic straws only make up about 4% of plastic pollution by piece and only 2,000 of the 9 million tons of plastic in our environment, whether it be at the bottom of the ocean or washed up on a remote beach.
The sad truth is that even if plastic straws are eradicated, there are still so many plastic products we must give up in order to save our marine life, and in turn, ourselves. This means stop buying ‘trendy’ bottled water and opt for a reusable metal bottle that will last a lifetime. Even the toys we give our children that are not recycled end up breaking down into microplastics which pollute oceans, and poison the fish we eat on a microscopic level.
All of this damages the health of those living in fishing towns or fish-eating cultures. If the British government does succeed in banning single-use plastic by the year 2050, unfortunately all the other plastic objects we use can easily end up in the oceans. In addition, we are only a small island: there needs to be a wider global movement that coincides with what the government is aiming to do.
But how do we make this happen? The first step in solving a problem of this scale is always education. It is only through education that we can create a social change. This means we must educate our children and even the older generations with a Lasseiz-Faire attitude in order for there to be more understanding of what is at stake: not only the health of our marine life but also the health of humanity.
We are only worsening the water pollution crisis and reducing the safety of our drinking (potable) water sources. We now cannot eat any seafood without ingesting plastic that poisons our systems because of all the dangerous disposable chemicals we use to make products. It’s no wonder that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
If our government was truly dedicated to the cause, they would be pushing for more environmentally-friendly content in our education systems, and as a secondary school student, I am yet to see any that
It is simply unfair for our parents to give up now. They have the voting power, they have the voices that will be heard, they still have the time to make a difference.
Not only do we need the public to adopt a more plastic-free attitude, but we also need global leaders and the capitalists of the world to aid in the clean-up of our environment instead of focusing on profit.
For now, however, we can educate ourselves on how to reduce the amount of plastic we use and, slowly but surely, start a plastic