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Our willingness to address the plastic problem

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chocka
chocka
Seeker and Yogic practitioner, that looks to delve deeper into every aspect of life and live joyously. Business Agility consultant that loves to study enterprises as a living organism and provide organic process solutions.

On the eve of World Environment Day, everyone is geared up for action to deal with the menace of plastic. While plastic is a very useful material it’s indiscriminate use has resulted in an environmental calamity of large proportions.

World’s Oceans are infested with Plastic waste

Many articles have been written about the problems so rather than delving into the problems, let us look at why action to bring about change has to be addressed at multiple levels in order for it to be a sustainable change, rather than a one-day activistic rally.

Our focus on impactful change has to be on ‘Single Use Plastics’, that is consumer driven and can be easily addressed with willful actions  – single-use plastic such as carry bags, plastic water and soda bottles, straws, cups are immediate targets.

Plastic waste by country

Convenience, Cost and Short term vision

The unwillingness to change is at three levels:

  • People don’t want to give up daily convenience for saving the environment for the future
  • Corporations don’t want to bear higher costs for alternatives to single-use plastics
  • Governments don’t want long-term social policies at the cost of politics of staying in power allowing status quo – so their focus is on next 3-4 years instead of the next 15-20

This is the current paradigm facing us. So in order to really affect a change we have to address this at all 3 levels.

People have to be shown alternatives that they can use in their daily lives – Personal water bottles instead of plastic bottled water, Natural material bags instead of plastic carry bags when shopping etc. They also need to associate choosing the alternative is the cool choice and they are not being a freak in doing so – this requires celebrities and their role models to first imbibe this culture

Bottled water consumption by country
Bottled water consumption by country

 

Bottling companies discarded glass bottles for plastic bottles to save 12-15 cents per bottle. It also saves them from the headache of recycling and re-using the bottles or establishing the entire system of collection wherever they have a market presence. If an environmental tax of 30 cents or more is levied per plastic bottle as an environmental tax then they will surely come up with creative alternatives. Also if there are some means of incentivizing environmental friendly corporate action such as plastic retrieval and recycle, it may spawn entirely new industries of profit that are centered around waste management which in turn creates a pollution free world.

Governments are controlled by lobby money from various industries and so will be reluctant to antagonize the oil and plastic industries in order to effect environmentally responsible laws. However, if they know they can fill up their coffers with the taxation of everyday goods and there is public support for such action then they would be willing to do so. If they realize their ministry of environment can be a profitable venture that creates new jobs by spawning new industries in natural ingredients based heavy industrial tools that produce everyday consumer product alternatives, then they would be enthused to enact laws that subsidize environmentally friendly industries and tax corporations that are not eco-friendly.

Where do we start?

The first step is creating a climate of awareness at all 3 levels. Once people in sizable numbers are willing to let go of their convenience and comfort to demand the right eco-friendly things, action would ensue from the government and then the corporations.

If we as people support policies that incentives R&D of eco-friendly alternatives, and willingly sign-up for taxation of everyday products that hits at the core of corporate profits of existing industries, we will allow the dawn of a new era of social responsibility by all for all.

Call to Action:

  1. Change of lifestyle by choosing social responsibility (refusing to use single-use plastics) rather than individual comfort and convenience
  2. Help create awareness of the environmental impact amongst others, corporates, NGOs and Governmental agencies
  3. Preparedness to fiscally support alternative products that may cost more but are eco-friendly – use of social media and personal clout to promote such products also helps
  4. New Plastics Economy

    Support initiatives such as “New Plastics Economy” that promotes new paradigms of the circular economy (Reduce-Reuse-Recycle)

  5. Partake in petitions that clearly inform your government and political parties of your readiness to pay taxes on single-use plastics, so they can enact legislation with longer-term vision rather than short-term political gains.

The question is – how willing are we to take this on?

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chocka
chocka
Seeker and Yogic practitioner, that looks to delve deeper into every aspect of life and live joyously. Business Agility consultant that loves to study enterprises as a living organism and provide organic process solutions.
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