“THERE ARE MANY THINGS YOU COULD DO WITH PLASTIC, THROWING IT “AWAY” HAS TO CEASE BEING ONE OF THEM.WE ARE ALL CREATURES OF HABIT. WE JUST HAVE TO GET USED TO A MORE SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE.”
WORDS BY REET RANNIK + PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTINA ARZA
“ WE CLAIM TO BE THE SMARTEST ANIMALS ON THE PLANET, YET WE HAVE MANAGED TO PUSH OUT MOST OF THE PLANET’S SPECIES INTO EXTINCTION. ”
One thing we all have in common is our home planet: Earth. If you think of it, we could be just another uninhabitable planet, like our neighbors Venus and Mars where there is no oxygen to breathe. But for some reason, our planet is at the perfect distance from the Sun where life is possible. We are in what scientists call, “the Goldilocks Zone,” the region in our solar system where the temperature is just right for liquid water to exist. As we know, water is essential for all living things. It is because of water that we are able to survive. If you were to take a drop of water and examine it under a microscope you would find millions of Diatoms. Diatoms are single-celled algae that create most of Earth’s oxygen supply through photosynthesis. “When Diatoms run out of nutrients they die and their shells fall to the ocean’s floor creating “Marine Snow,” the seabeds rise, the ocean levels fall and the ocean floor becomes a salty desert. Wind lifts up the sand from the desert and blows it all the way to the Amazon. This dust (Diatom carcasses) then serve as fertilizer for the rainforest.” This is just one example of how everything in the natural world is incredibly interconnected. Everything except for us. Somehow, along our evolutionary process we have managed to stray away from the natural world. We have become so distanced from our inner nature that we are slowly killing our home planet and inevitably setting ourselves up for own demise. Every living organism on Earth works in perfect symphony to create a balanced order. Instead of integrating ourselves harmoniously into this ecological ordinance and having a symbiotic relationship with nature, we humans, have taken a more egocentric stance in which we profit economically from nature. In effect, our lands are being exploited to the point that in some parts of the world we can no longer grow anything. We are destroying our ozone layer due to the high levels of industrial demand, the ice-caps are melting at an alarming rate and in effect the sea levels are rising. We claim to be the smartest animals on the planet, yet we have managed to push out most of the planet’s species into extinction. I could go on, but let’s face it, the doom and gloom narrative tends to intimidate us and make us feel as if there was nothing we could do to save our planet when in fact we can. But to do so, we must go back to our roots.
“ TAKING CARE OF OUR PLANET IS TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES AND PROVIDING A DECENT HOME FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. AS FAR AS WE KNOW, WE ARE THE ONLY PLANET WITH LIFE. ”
To me, going back to our roots means, adapting a similar lifestyle to that of our ancestors. I’m not saying we should go back to living in caves and hunting for our food, this would be a pretty dramatic turn considering how far we’ve come since then. What I am proposing is a more simplistic lifestyle, like having a more plant-based diet, growing some of your own fruit, vegetables and herbs, compost, live amongst nature and if not somehow incorporating it into your daily lifestyle. I think many of the problems we face today as individuals has to do with how disassociated we are from nature and therefore ourselves. Gardening is one of the ways we could salvage this. There is a type of bacteria found in the soil called “Mycobacterium Vaccae” which stimulates the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, so simply put, soil acts as an antidepressant. The more contact we have with soil, the better it is for our emotional and mental health. By growing some of our own food, we could improve our mental, emotional and physical health, reconnect with nature, be more mindful of waste and water use and best of all, eat organically. If we understood all the effort it takes to grow food, then we wouldn’t waste so much of it. If everyone was responsible for growing some of their own food we would reduce our carbon footprint and remove the middleman; plastic. Plastic seems to be everywhere. It’s wrapped around our foods, it’s in our drinks, in our products and most importantly it’s in our oceans. If we continue the path we are on, one of a consumerist society, a “throwaway” culture by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Every piece of plastic you have ever thrown “away” is still on the planet in some shape or form. Plastic is a great invention, but it is flawed because its purpose seems to be fulfilled once the product inside of it is consumed. While the product is transient the plastic, hauntingly enough has the potential to outlive us. Until corporations decide to only provide their clients with biodegradable plastic we must refuse it for the greater good of the planet. If all consumers refused plastic wrapped products, corporations surely enough would catch on and adapt to what the consumer wants. We think we have little power over corporations, when in fact we have all the power. Companies constantly study consumers needs, trends and adapt to satisfy their clientele, because in doing so they accomplish higher revenues. If you absolutely cannot stop using plastic because your favorite face wash comes in a plastic container then do something with it afterwards, don’t throw it “away” because there is no “away.” “Away” means the ocean or the landfill. Our immediate assumption that plastic is trash is why there is so much of it in our oceans. We need to change this mode of thinking and start seeing plastic as a resource. It is a durable material and there are unimaginable amounts of it. Back in April, I began recollecting plastic bags from my neighbors and crocheting them into rugs. It has helped me feel like an active team player in the battle against plastic contamination. So far I have saved around 1,000 plastic bags from going into the landfill and the ocean. I didn’t even know how to crochet to begin with so if I can do it, so can you. There are many things you could do with plastic, throwing it “away” has to cease being one of them.We are all creatures of habit. We just have to get used to a more sustainable lifestyle. Taking care of our planet is taking care of ourselves and providing a decent home for future generations. As far as we know, we are the only planet with life. Let’s keep it that way and get back in touch with our roots.