Let’s get bleak then I’ll cheer you all up.
Plastic pollution is such an overwhelming problem it can get quite depressing. Every article or video you see is bad news, and you end up feeling helpless at scale of the problem and a desperate urge to do something mixed with a hopeless realisation that you are just one person, so how can you even begin to make a difference. Panic stricken guilt and sadness ensues. (That’s how I react anyway…)
Facts such as:
By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish (by weight) in the ocean.
An estimated 32% of plastics escape the collection system globally. 8 million tonnes of plastics (of which estimates suggest that plastic packaging represents the majority) leak into the ocean every year.
91% of plastics aren’t recycled.
Facts like these can make your efforts seem useless in the face of it all… Stop right there! That’s an exaggeration wouldn’t you say? No need to get yourself down about this. What kind of attitude is that?
So how do you stay upbeat about tackling plastic pollution when faced with statistics of doom? What you need is some positively positive suggestions to help you return to your sunny disposition and can-do attitude. Remember these things and there’ll be no problem you can’t take on.
Without further ado, here are my tips on how to stay positive when it’s all such a goddamn mess.
1. Moral superiority
Revel in the fact you can lord it over all the wasteful selfish jerks who care nothing for the planet and its people and are hell bent on consuming in damned ignorance. Lap it up. They are lesser than you, for you are better than them! ...Just don’t tell them that. It won’t go down well. Offence will be caused, so keep it to yourself to avoid the isolation vacuum that appears around the people who are loud and proud about their moral superiority. Keep the rage at the filth inside and just shake your head and tut when you see others drinking from plastic bottles. It’ll keep your boastful nature sated and you’ll have plausible deniability that you were even directing your disapproval at them in the first place.
2. Celebrate the small victories
Whether that is rejoicing in the introduction of a bottle deposit scheme (Go Scotland! England stop dithering already and follow suit) or the sense of disbelief and amazement you feel when you realise you’ve finally used up the last of the plastic bottles in your bathroom. (I’m not even there yet! I’ve used up everything I would use regularly, but there’s still loads of random crap horded away in cupboards…it’s going to take a while.) We win all the time at these things, because more and more people are trying to give up plastic, so collectively, we are doing great things. That’s inspiring right?
There are some great communities of passionate people out there who are trying to tackle plastic pollution. Surfers Against Sewage and the 2 Minute Beach Clean crew are great examples of this. Join in and have a moan about litter with them, or make plans of action to overcome the problems we face. I need to follow my own advice here and get involved more! With this website launched I now have something to offer you all too and to hopefully inspire some sort of community here at Anything But Plastic. With me in charge it may end up being the kind of community that has more ASBO’s than residents but I’ll try not to let that happen….
4. Sense of worth and purpose
I used to be the kind of person who had ideas but never actually followed through and made something of them, but after starting to cut down on plastic this totally changed. I realised that more people would take this issue to heart if it was made more accessible to buy plastic free things. Which made me think, well, I could do that… and here we are! I am so smugly self-satisfied with myself because I have a purpose. I can make a difference and I have already with this website. I’ve been crazily motivated and had very little self-doubt and anxiety about time or the future (which normally get me good and proper worked up) since starting this project. I have learnt so many new things, overcome fears and actually put myself out there. This would have seemed nigh on impossible before. Ask me this time last year what I would be doing right now and I probably would have said still working in an outdoor shop because I have no idea what I’d be doing instead. I’m surprised at myself, and those who know me are also probably in a state of disbelief. The feedback I have had so far has been incredibly inspiring and I am so happy with what I’m doing and where I’m going with this.
Honestly, you can feel as zen as me and begin to radiate that irritating sense of righteousness that comes with having a purpose. Everything you do, whether that’s start using a reusable water bottle or refusing to accept a plastic straw or coffee cup when you are out, makes a difference. Your actions affect others and who knows, maybe you made that bartender who was going to blindly hand you a plastic straw stop and think. This is people power. By defining yourself as someone who cares you’ve gained some purpose and clarity as to what actually matters to you. Embrace plastic free living and share it with others. I believe in you.
5. Enjoy the outrage
There’s nothing more a Brit likes best than a conversation along the lines of…
‘Can you believe this??’
‘I know, it’s disgusting. You’d think someone would do something about it.’
‘Totally outrageous that they can even get away with this kind of behaviour.’
It brings us all together. Nothing like a bit of disgruntled outrage to foster a sense of solidarity. That example of small talk could have been referencing many things, from littering to low recycling rates. There are lots of topics surrounding plastic pollution you can direct your annoyance towards, bring someone else into the conversation so that you can make a new friend in outrage. There’s always someone to share your disgust with!
6. Join in the game
Games are fun. You could look at this taking on of the mess that is plastic pollution as one giant game you can play. Big changes generally only happen as a result of many smaller changes. Think of it like this, say you change one of your actions, like switching from a shampoo bottle to a solid bar of shampoo instead. How many plastic bottles have you knocked out of the system? It’s probably a lot. You are winning! Fun right? Or, you could tell a friend about what you’re doing which encourages them to change one action. They might tell someone else, leading to another person joining in. You pushed your friend and made them join in the game, who in turn asked someone else to play. It’s now a friendly competition, but check the scoreboard because you’ve earned loads of points! Plastic falling out of favour everywhere because of your chain of reaction. Who knows how far that will spread?! Going plastic free isn’t a chore, it’s a game. Every time you give up another plastic item or tell someone else what you are doing you earn more points. It’s easy to stay positive when you are winning, so count those points! Never get discouraged by the big problems, because all those small changes add up to chip away at the big ones. 😊
After reading all that hopefully you are now super psyched about overcoming plastic pollution. You can do it!
Hope you’ve enjoyed my musings.
Your friend in outrage,