“Plastic is wonderful, because it’s durable; plastic is terrible because it is durable.”
These are the opening words of the UN video, “Plastic Ocean”. It shows the damage being done to our seabirds by the plastic that is littering our world.
We’ve heard a lot recently about the pollution that discarded plastic has brought to our planet, and the danger it is to wildlife. Of course, there is also the other side of the coin, e.g. today there can be very few people who have been treated in a modern hospital, who haven’t benefited from the use of plastic in healthcare. The problem lies in how we dispose of the plastic we use.
Those in the waste disposal and recycling industries need to be people of integrity, especially in the final destination of the plastic that passes through their hands. Plastic takes centuries to break down, so shipping it off to countries in the Far East, which don’t have the facilities to deal with it, is no solution at all.
However, “necessity is the mother of invention,” and scientists and entrepreneurs have already come up with partial answers to this problem. In her TEDx talk Dr. Medha Tadpatrikar describes her successful process to turn plastic back into fuel. ~ Plastic2Oil is an American company, which does the same, converting waste plastic into ultra-clean, ultra-low sulphur fuel. ~ Plastic Bank was founded in 2013. It buys plastic waste at an above-market rate from local people in developing countries. Plastic can also be exchanged for items or services. Plastic collected through Plastic Bank is recycled and sold at a premium as Social Plastic®. ~ And a natural way to reduce plastic waste is being developed by scientists, who have discovered plastic-eating bacteria. ~ These ideas are all good, but more are needed.
In the UN video “Plastic Ocean”, marine scientist Dr. Jennifer Lavers retrieves 234 pieces of plastic from the stomach of a shearwater found on an Australian island. Of course, those plastic pieces couldn’t be digested, and so lead to the death of this marvellous seabird. But what about our diet? We don’t eat plastic deliberately, but is what we take into our bodies through our eyes and our ears doing us good or causing us harm? For example, are we horrified at the violence we see on the news, yet pay to watch it at the cinema? There is so much beauty and hope to be discovered; focussing on that and rejecting the bad, can help us build a better world. In fact our Creator encourages us to come to Him for positive, spiritual sustenance:
“Why spend your money on something that is not real food?
Why work for something that doesn’t really satisfy you?
Listen closely to me, and you will eat what is good;
your soul will enjoy the rich food that satisfies.
Come to me and listen; listen to me so you may live.”
Isaiah 55:2-3 (NCV)
God’s words are spiritual food, spoken in love, and those words will outlast all the plastic on this planet.