a neat term wrapped up in two little words that spell out a really HUGE problem.
In fact the problems associated with what we are doing to the environment are so big that you could be forgiven for believing that it is just too big to deal with. After all, others are taking up the challenge, aren’t they? What can I, as an individual, actually do to help? I may as well do nothing...
Well, think about what that means. If you do nothing you aren’t merely a disinterested observer, you are actually adding to the problem.
Because every time you (or me) decide to do nothing, we will throw that piece of plastic into the bin. Every time we do nothing, we will happily wash a few more chemicals down the sink and in just one day of doing nothing we will have added these into our environment. Oh, not necessarily straight into the ocean, of course, because that piece of plastic will (possibly) go into landfill first where it will begin a gradual process of breaking down into smaller pieces until those particles get washed into our drains and then into our lochs and eventually out into the sea. Out here, plankton will consume the smallest pieces, store them within its body and then transfer its’ tiny load onto the first thing that eats it – probably a fish.
The washing up liquid will get into the environment a lot quicker, of course.
But that’s OK, isn’t it? Wont it just decompose?
No it won’t. Cleaning products are usually manufactured from many different chemicals and once they enter the water they can have some nasty effects on the animals and plants living there (see this post for more info):
There is is an easy answer to the problem, of course, and that is for every human on the planet to revert to a waste-less life, ensuring all our consumer products, including food, have no packaging, give up cars, rely on sustainable fuel and drastically reduce our numbers.
I said it was an easy answer, not that it is an easy solution!
The burning issue is whether humanity really has the drive necessary to find a collective way out of this mess and at first glance the answer will be 'no'. We are a disparate planet; the majority of it governed by countries too poor to worry about it and driven by the need to create wealth and the rest of it too rich to worry about it - and driven by the need to create wealth. But if there is anything the 2020 pandemic has taught us is that at times of crisis we tend towards collective solutions.
I only hope that we reach that point before the environmental crisis overwhelms us. In the meantime, we can all make small changes that collectively could make a huge difference.
Just don't 'do nothing'!