Plastic Anxiety and Our Role
Plastic Guilt and our Pledge
Yes plastic guilt and anxiety are now a thing and I do hope a thing to stay. Well perhaps plastic awareness and action would be more comfortable and proactive, but lots of us are feeling the stress of green guilt as it's hard to be 100% conscious all the time. It's 2019 and everyone who has a conscience (and a brain) is at least aware and as a business should be making a plan and implementing it. Not all businesses do have a conscience.... but I'll leave that article for someone else. It seems most of the people I speak to are now more and more concerned about the effects of our use of one use plastics on the planet. Turning up at the supermarket without bags from home is enough to give us all lasting feelings of guilt!
This last Christmas I made a pledge to buy no new plastic items and did well for the family with second hand or lasting reusable sustainable presents but the process really made me think long and hard about my footprint, my family's and the role of the business. It's such a big problem that it did literally give me anxiety and question what we are doing as a society and what we are teaching our children. It's hard to straddle both worlds of enjoying the ease and pleasure of the material world yet also being environmentally conscious. Are we as a business, family, or just by simply being alive today the problem? Should we just give up on this capitalist world and run naked through the countryside eating dandelion leaves until our days are done? As we partly do in summer anyways... or is that just us...?! Or do we accept our flaws, clean up our mess and work on them to change what we leave behind on this beautifully planet to our grandchildren.
Image courtesy of plasticfreeplanetuk.co.uk
I'm sure you've heard the expression from a first nations tribal person over a century ago "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors- we borrow it from our children".
So in case you haven't been paying attention to this issue here's a little recap.....There's an entire plastic island floating in the sea twice the size of Texas. We are destroying our oceans with the stuff, killing fish and sea mammals who eat it or get caught in it! We've surely heard of microplastics, tiny particles of plastic less than 5mm long, which recently have been found not only in the ocean but in human stools having entered our food and water supplies. These have been shown to cause all types of diseases and birth defects. Even if you don't believe in illness coming from inadvertently consuming plastic, noone wants our beautiful planet to be covered in unsightly dumped plastic which takes 1000 years to decompose and leaving the earth in what state?
It seems we as a society are ready to change and use less or even no plastic at all. But how do we start? It can seem so overwhelming! I feel most of our customers get it and want this change. Some of us try to buy organic veg boxes (when we can afford it, which sometimes isn't that often) or choose groceries not wrapped in plastic, except when we really need that box of nutritional yeast to make vegan cheese so the cows don't have to be raped of their milk!! Damn the guilt is endless! Which battle do we choose to fight? All.... none..... some?! Some of can only afford to shop in discount supermarkets with cheap imported goods covered in plastic, some of us don't have the time or money to take our £45 organic bamboo tupperwares to the local refill when we have a baby in a pushchair and a toddler on a scooter and even an assignment to write for uni or a night shift to complete! And even when we do take those steps we're given yet more guilt such as "why even have children if they leave such a footprint", or "using a car" bla bla bla!!
It's all too tempting to just give up and say "fuck it, I'll let the protesting students and hippies with more time to battle and tackle it, let them do enough plastic protests that before long sainsburys will be importing all their fruit and veg on non plastic crates that they then fly back to Africa on a solar paneled aeroplanes to refill again from organic sustainable farms....." Unlikely but the guilt can seriously get too much! How do we manage to make a difference without going insane with anxiety or just giving up all together??? I am genuinely asking you that question by the way? But we've started now. We can't give up because at the rate we're going, before the end of our lifetimes, we will have truly fucked up and wrapped the entire planet in plastic.
Or the other extreme reaction could be to give up consuming all together. Go live in the Brazilian rainforest, learn to forage and live off the land without leaving any footprints... Okay that's never gonna happen. Returning back to the "good ol' days" of hunter gatherers ain't happening until after a potential apocalypse. And let's be honest they may not have had plastic anxiety but they sure as hell had others fears, being eating alive by wild animals, other humans or just getting an infection and having no life saving medicine! Plants heal a lot but not everything! So that means there's no way out of this modern life except to recreate how we live it, how much we consume, what we consume and vote with our money... choose our battles and leave less of us behind. I do hope that one day we can look back on this era as the plastic era and be glad we got out of it. That we will see a reduction in diseases and unnecessary over consumption... I know we can't make the big corporations change but we can speak for ourselves only and know we did the best we could.
Tribalik's Plastic Free Pledge
So for 2019 this is what we are doing as Tribalik to help ourselves with plastic guilt and hopefully leave a lot more of our beautifully abundant planet to our grandchildren!
1) We are now sending our jewellery in eco friendly jiffy bags. They are made from recycled paper and do contain some plastic but we are working hard on finding an alternative to these to keep our beautiful delicate pieces of jewellery safe in transit yet with no plastic at all.
2) If possible they go in just recycled boxes or small recycled envelopes.
3) We have one roll of plastic bubble wrap left but we have already chosen our alternative for when we have used all of that. Recycled tissue paper.
3) Our small body jewellery boxes are now recycled card so if needed we send in these.
4) We use recycled material bags in our shops and to send our online orders as a protective wrap plus it's a reusable storage bag. Our customers are huge fans of these.
5) I think we have finally found an alternative to small plastic polybags for small pieces of body jewellery. We are trialing small recycled envelopes to send our items in.
6) We are also making more long lasting unique pieces moving away from the throwaway culture which can sometimes include fashion jewellery into designs that are worth the investment and last a lifetime.
7) This isn't plastic stuff but just want to mention all our energy is powered by renewable sources.
8) We also pay a private recycling company to recycle our large cardboard boxes.
We are not perfect, far from it, but soon we will have reduced our use of plastic or non recycled bags to less than 3% and at some point hopefully by the end of this year be at almost 0%. We are encouraging our small jewellery makers to send our designs in non plastic bags such as recycled newspaper.
Little by little we will all get there with better choices, better designing of essential storage and a little bit of forward planning. We're still waiting on the renewable energy transport to send our items and the bigger companies to catch on and use less or no plastic but it will come if enough of us keep making the noise and choosing where we spend.
So here's to you amazing beings who queue up in shops with your bags brought from home or volunteer at vege farms, or choose to eat at home instead of order throwaway take away containers or carry a bag full of stainless steel straws, bamboo take away coffee cups or granny hankies, what you do makes a difference and we salute you!