The Ecological Insanity of a Plastic World

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The following article was written by Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson, and posted on FB May 02, 2016.

Yesterday I posted a picture of lemons and oranges, each individually wrapped in plastic.

I was not expecting such a huge response, 3,375,404 reached, 14,420 shares and 2,238 comments.

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People asked me where the photo was taken. It was in Southern France but it really does not matter, plastic is an issue around the globe. That is why Sea Shepherd is involved with the Vortex Project and why we arrange international beach clean-ups.

A few people told me I needed to shop organic so today I hit the organic section and found 80% of everything wrapped in plastic. Peppers, mushrooms, individually wrapped cucumbers, leeks and corn. The corn I noticed was grown in Senegal, loaded onto a plane and flown to France. I like to buy locally when I can and only bought these two ears of corn for the picture.

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I don’t believe a product should be allowed to be labelled organic (Bio) if wrapped in plastic.

I also tried in vain to find some peanut butter but each and every jar contained palm oil.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to buy locally, to stay away from GMOs and palm oil and to not consume plastic. Whenever I think of Palm Oil, I envision the misery of the Orangutan, and each time I see plastic on food, I see a path that leads straight to the sea where it will become a toxic threat to the diversity of species in the Ocean.

White and clear plastic bags that float under the water tempting sea turtles in the guise of jellyfish, plastic bottles swallowed by sharks and whales, micro plastics consumed by mantas and whale sharks and the bit of plastic lethally fed to albatross chicks by parents who mistook the stuff for food.

Shopping for food today is like walking through a labyrinth of toxic substances checking every label for ingredients, trying to find ways to buy food without having it encased in plastic or placed in plastic bags, and trying to find bottled water in glass containers instead of plastic bottles. I don’t buy meat or fish but I notice they wrap fish and meat in paper and then place it in a sealed plastic bag.

Someone asked me why I’m always complaining about these things and someone else said I should get a life. My answer to that is there are quite a few damn things that need complaining about and it’s because I have a life that I’m concerned.

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Two years ago I spent 15 months walking the beaches of uninhabited islands (by people) in the South Pacific and the Coral Sea. On each and every island my crew and I removed tons of plastic.

Ross Atoll in American Samoa, Ofalanga beaches in Tonga, Phantom Island on the Great Barrier Reef, and on beaches in Vanuatu, Fiji, the Society Islands and New Caledonia. There was not one island free of plastic debris and that, to me, is worth complaining about and worth exposing and worth cleaning up.

I remember walking the beaches of the Bay of Fundy in the 50s and not seeing even the tiniest piece of plastic. I remember walking the country roads with my brothers looking for glass beer and pop bottles so we could turn them in for 2 cents each. Not once did we see a plastic bottle and we never saw any water bottles at all since water came free from the tap.

But over the years humanity has quickly adapted to diminishment. We simply accept less and less and pretend that we have more and more.

Our seas are dying from over-fishing, illegal fishing, oil, chemical and plastic pollution, from radiation, from acidification, oxygen depletion and climate change.

We need to make radical changes in our life styles and in our consumer habits if humanity intends to survive into the future and where each and everyone of us can contribute to making the world better is with how we shop for food.

Even a meat free vegan diet is still a threat to the planet when fruits and vegetables are all wrapped in plastic. The one time use and wastage is immense, amounting to millions of tons each day. This material is 1. burnt, releasing toxic fumes, 2. dumped into landfills where it will sit for thousands of years leaching toxins into the soil or it will find its way down storm drains and into streams and rivers into the Ocean.

Humanity lived content in a world without plastic once. Bottles and jars, paper bags and cloth shopping bags. We need to rid our lives of our addiction to plastic. Can we do it? The answer is that we bloody well better do it if humanity is to have a future on this planet.

To follow Captain Paul Wilson, visit www.seashepherd.org.

 

 

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One Response to The Ecological Insanity of a Plastic World

  1. Norma says:

    This is an excellent article. Yes,some people tell you things like “you should get a life” or “who cares?” if you question some of the insanity of the way we live in our corporate controlled world. People accept things as “normal” that just a decade or two ago would have been unheard of. It is because we are constantly bombarded by advertising that tells us it is all better than it used to be just because it is different and we now have a few generations of people who seem to assume all change is for some benefit to us all. In fact, much of it is simply about generating profits for companies.
    My particular peeve of late is people who drink bottled water who don’t need to. I am a landlord. We have well water that runs through a very expensive UV system. It is tested for bacteria every month (and has never failed), it is absolutely clear, and it tastes perfect. Some of my guests take it home in glass bottles to use themselves because it doesn’t have any taste of chlorine. Some of my tenants, however, buy giant plastic jugs of water because they believe it to be cleaner and healthier because it comes from some “pure” and “natural” source somewhere. In fact, it is tap water from somewhere else that is sterilized, filtered, encased in plastic, and shipped off around the world. It takes what we already have and sells it back to us for big bucks, generating garbage and burning scads of fuel in the process. Not to mention the taste plastic imparts to the water and the fact that there is plenty of evidence that plastic drinking bottles are not good for our personal health. It is insane. It is idiocy. And it is what people think makes sense. We all need to give our heads a collective shake.

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