As a little girl I would quite happily tear off a plastic wrapper to enjoy a sickly sweet lollypop without a care in the world. My parents had always taught me never to litter, so obediently I would dispose of such wrappers in to a bin and think that someone else would deal with it. I had done my part for society, or so I thought..
This attitude sums up what I believe is a major issue for recent generations - we are all so removed from any sense of responsibility. A prime example of this is how far removed consumers are from the process in which animals become dinner. I know this varies in different cultures but I have many friends that eat meat and tell me they could never go vegetarian or vegan. Yet when I've asked these friends if they would eat meat if they had to kill it themselves they always say no. I've heard parents say “I haven't told the kids that chicken the food is from chicken the animal yet, I don't want to upset them”. Is it just me or is this all quite bizarre?
Whether you choose to eat something, or not, is entirely up to personal preference and I would never push my personal opinion on anyone; but I'm not sure people even truly understand or believe their own choices sometimes. Do we not owe it to ourselves, and our children, to educate ourselves on these matters?
At 10 years old I watched the film "babe", yes the one about the pig and I never touched bacon again. People often laugh at this story and I understand why, of course I knew before the age of 10 that meat came from animals but the process from pig to bacon had never really occurred to me before. In my world bacon came from supermarkets and what happened before that was a mystery.
I can see how this problem came about, there was a time when we all had to fend for ourselves, hunting and foraging for food. Of course there was no plastic and leftovers would always be used up. As time went by consumerism was born, you could go to a supermarket and pick up whatever food you liked the look of. There would be little information on where the food came from or the conditions it had been subjected to. Products would be smothered in plastic but once you're done with it, someone will come and take away the trash. This type of consumerism is problematic to say the least and the throw away society is leaving our planet in bad shape.
The good news is we have now entered the digital age, a time where we still walk in to a supermarket and pick up whatever we fancy, we still find food smothered in plastic, however we now have constant access to knowledge, whenever and wherever at the tip of our fingertips. Want to know where your sausages came from? google it! Want to know where your plastic packaging ends up? google it! Once we have the knowledge we can choose what type of consumer we want to be.
As consumers we all need to take responsibility for our purchasing decisions.
We live in a world where the average American makes 4.4lbs of trash every single day according to a study by saveonenergy. We put out our trash for someone else to pick up and take away... None of the details of where it's going or what will happen seem important to most people as it's not seen as our responsibility. Recently one man decided not to throw away his trash and instead wear all of it for 30 days. It's an interesting concept that we don't realise how much trash we are creating because we don't have to look at it for long.
We owe it to future generations to wise up, to educate ourselves about our purchasing decisions and the impact it has on the planet. Educate yourself about where plastic ends up. Is it still worth the convenience? It's your decision but at least it can be an educated one. So our best advice for consumers:
1. Do ask questions.
2. Do educate yourself and the people around you about what you discover.
3. Take responsibility for your purchases and the impact it has on the planet.