How To Be A Better Human

Colin Goodridge

Colin Goodridge is striving to be a Better Human. He is about creating a better version of ourselves and our world through experimenting, research, learning and writing. All this knowledge and wisdom has been condensed and refined into a blog to discuss ways in which we can all become, well, better humans. Today he will be discussing how to can all help in solving the plastic problem.

Photo: Colin Goodridge

Photo: Colin Goodridge

Plastic is an amazing material that does what it’s supposed to do incredibly well. It’s revolutionized our world by providing a means to create any type of product that we can think of; it allows us to store and preserve perishables for great lengths of time; it’s paved the way for great advances in medicine and science; it’s malleable, water-resistant, rigid, flexible and strong; and it’s one of the greatest threats of our time to our planet.

The oceans and marine-life are particularly affected. Although I’ve been a long-time environmentalist and lover of the seas, I’d never experienced our plastic trash problem in the ocean until recently when I was scuba diving in the Philippines. I’d rank my underwater adventures there as some of the best diving I’ve ever experienced. The corals and aquatic life were varied, vast and beautiful, but sadly, I had two handfuls of plastic trash after every dive. It was wrapped around corals, floating menacingly at the surface and below, embedded in the sandy ocean floor and littered along the coast.

Photo: Colin Goodridge

Photo: Colin Goodridge

So infuriating! How can this be? We want answers. We want to place blame somewhere which makes us feel like the problem is simpler than it is. In reality, it’s rather complex and there’s no simple answer, but we can turn the tide by focusing on solutions rather than the problem. Less blaming and more doing.

Action doesn’t have to be on a grand scale. Small actions are immensely effective because they compound and are more attainable, so let’s focus on these types.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Cut single-use plastic out of your life as much as possible.

  2. Take reusable bags when shopping.

  3. Carry a reusable water bottle and use the Tap app to find water dispensing locations.

  4. Either refuse straws or use a reusable one.

  5. Refuse plastic cutlery and carry reusable utensils.

  6. Use a reusable cup for coffee and tea when buying out.

  7. If you have access to recycling bins, wash off all food stuck to plastics before throwing them out. Soiled and contaminated plastic doesn’t get recycled.

  8. Buy plastic products second-hand or alternatives made out of other materials like steel, glass, aluminum, silicone, wood and paper. These are all more sustainable and infinitely recyclable.

  9. Buy clothes without plastic in them. Polyester, nylon and acrylic are major culprits of micro plastic in the ocean due to shedding that takes place when cleaned in the washer.

  10. Buy from companies that provide plastic-free products.

  11. Think like a minimalist. Plastic is unavoidable for many of us, so the more products we buy and own, the more opportunity there is for more plastic pollution. Buying less decreases demand for the production of new plastic.

  12. DIY as much as possible. Many people love creating their own household and personal care products that they know are safe and effective. The best is if they’re stored in non-plastic reusable containers.

  13. Support non-profit organizations fighting against plastic pollution.

  14. If you feel passionate about the plastic pollution problem, let it be known amongst your friends and family. The key is to not complain and get negative about it, but rather discuss it in a positive manner that doesn’t alienate or guilt others.

  15. Join beach or river cleanups. This provides a more safe and habitable environment for local fauna and ensures that the plastic waste is disposed of properly.

  16. Vote for politicians who are sympathetic to our environment and move us forward into a more sustainable future.

  17. Support legislation that curbs and controls our single-use plastic addiction.

Photo: Colin Goodridge

Photo: Colin Goodridge

These small actions taken by millions or even billions of people would certainly make a huge dent in the multi-billion dollar plastics industry. At a fundamental level, all industries exist for one reason: profit. If demand for plastic decreases, then the plastics industry takes a hit in its profits. If profits decrease, production decreases - and that would be a step in the right direction.

Small actions beget more actions, so know this: Your steps will leave a lasting imprint, so please, start moving.

Rising Tides is a series focussing on the current threats facing our ocean, how these are being tackled and what you can do to help

If you’ve enjoyed this article from Colin, follow him here @_betterhuman_ and check out his website

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