It never, ever decomposes
The other day I was out digging in my garden. That long time planned kitchen garden, with herbs, lettuces and beetroot, to start with, was finally going to come into fruition. Upon digging deep in the soil, I came across a few, brightly coloured plastic bits; a golf peg, a screw fitting and something that once could have been a sweet wrapper. Plastic never disappears in nature. It might break down into much (much!) smaller bits, eventually, after 5 – 500 years depending on what it is, but it never naturally decomposes. This means that plastics can't be converted by living organisms into useful compounds for life. Instead, they photodegrade, a process by which photons from the sun's rays pulverize the plastic polymers until they are broken down into individual molecules.
Microplastics have been found in bottled water.
In addition to gardening I have a passion for walking. Short or long, they provide a space for thinking, reflection, connection and is a source of inspiration. On one of my many walks, inspired by the Swedish concept of #Plogging, where a person goes jogging and picks up rubbish that he or she finds on route, I decided to take a canvas bag with me, to pick up any litter I came across. I filled it up in no time. Then I had to carry this bag with me for the next two hours, while completing my walk, and in my mind, it became a metaphor for all the rubbish and pollution that we are leaving behind for someone else, in fact for our children, nieces and nephews, to clean up after us.
A quick change of scenery, to a crowded underground in the heart of London. Apart from the rattle of the tube, no one is talking, many people have their eyes glued on the screen of their phones. What are they doing? Playing games. What if we could hack this behaviour of online gaming, and turn it into something educational, fun – and helpful for the planet? Something that could change our behaviours, to responsibly dispose of our own rubbish and not keep polluting our planet? It is after all the only planet we have, even though we live as if we had several to our disposal.
Changing the world…
I have a dream. A dream of a society where we live within the means of our planet and where everyone has the social foundation needed for a fully human life. This dream can be expressed as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And as the doughnut of social and planetary boundaries, by Kate Raworth.
The SDGs are a call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity, leaving no one behind (I have explored the SDGs in a previous blog). With its colourful squares representing the 17 Goals, the SDGs do, just like a walk in nature, act as a source of inspiration of how we, you and I, can act for a better future now. Because it is widely acknowledged that everyone, not just governments and NGOs but also companies, whatever the size, and civil society, will have to act if we are to fulfill the Goals by 2030.
Similarly, the doughnut of a social and just space provides a new goal fit for the 21st century, of meeting the needs of all within the needs of the planet, and encourages us to stop chasing the goal of endless growth. For an excellent introduction to the doughnut by Kate Raworth, have a look here.
…one step at a time
So, what can I do I hear you ask? What can I do to be part of the movement, the movement to be the change?
* Pick up one piece of rubbish that you see on the street, and put it where it belongs, whether this is in the general rubbish bin, or in the recycling bin. Share what actions you are taking, let our social media channels overflow with our actions for a more human world. Big or small, all actions make a difference, and are worth celebrating (this is a lovely blog on the act of celebrating ones actions from Penny Walker, one of my co-organisers of the successful event She is Still Sustainable, held in March).
* Take a few moments, to breathe, and sit down and enjoy your coffee in a proper cup rather than a take-away cup, whether recyclable or not. Are you really in such a hurry? This will contribute to your wellbeing too and I dare you to try it.
Bringing an Ecoed culture alive
Remember that scene I described above, of the people on the London tube, playing online games. What if those games were raising awareness of sustainability issues around water, energy, waste and wellbeing? What if those games inspired you to take action?
Now, there is one that does, the new Ecoed App. The aim of Ecoed is to create an 'Ecoed culture', to empower people of all ages everywhere, to act, make small steps in the right direction towards the doughnut and the SDGs. With this app, you can play on your own, with friends and family, as well as with other players around the world. A Ecoed culture can be brought alive in your organisation, in your children’s school or in your community. It is a fun game, and soon you’ll be able to impress your colleagues and friends with fun facts, which makes you think of you own behaviours, such as
Did you know that if all the plastic bags that are consumed every year were placed one after the other, they would go around the world 7 times every hour?!
Did you know that every second, in the world, 160,000 plastic bags are being handed out?!
The facts are astonishing. And that is the thing with Ecoed, it makes you think, and as it gives actions that you and I can do every day to have a little less negative impact on our environment and the communities we live in. It helps us thread a little lighter on this beautiful planet of ours.
An Ecoed culture. That is another dream of mine.
This blog is written to celebrate Earth Day 2018 – which has a mission to end plastic pollution.
In my working life, I am a proud associate of Ecoed. Creating an 'Ecoed culture' is at the heart of what we do, empowering people from all ages and all sectors to take action towards the creation of a more sustainable future, for people and planet. With a rage of interventions like, workshops, challenges, campaigns and seminars, we at Ecoed can help you, your colleagues, your stakeholders and your family, to make a difference. Get in touch for a conversation!