The Coast News Group
Community Commentary

Consumerism and waste

Did you see the excellent documentary film on Colony Collapse screened last summer in the courtyard outside Whole Foods in Encinitas? Much thanks to DEMA. It was about the on-going demise of honey bees, due most likely to pesticides as acres and acres and acres of genetically-modified corn crops are systematically and thoroughly sprayed, then harvested to make single-use plastic containers and ethanol.
Driving home after the film with Pink Floyd playing on KPRI, I listened to the famous words, “I have become comfortably numb.” Regardless of what they were referring to when it was written, a billboard lit up in my mind. At that moment, I ascribed the meaning of this great song to our cultural coma of mindless consumerism and waste. “I hear you’re feeling down.”
Merrily plugging along on my way, often accused of being “The Plastic Police”, I keep an unofficial poll of how we’re doing with our planetary addiction to the bags and bottles that have symbolized my PET (polyethylene terephthalate) peeve for the past 10 years. Southern California is my “beat”, so to speak, and we are doing better than some, but while many cities and some countries are attempting to ban the bag all together, the stats are still grim. I’ve found that many people I meet from other countries are surprisingly oblivious. You would think coming from places like Japan, folks would be more aware of preventing pollution and conserving resources, but there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to this. Even educated people with children often overlook the consequences of their habits in pursuit of cheap goods, convenience, and what they think is hygienic safe-guarding. “Can you show me where it hurts?”
Some success stories: A huge packaging protest was organized in a German shopping center. That sounds like fun. I’ve heard that many local schools are promoting trash-free lunches. Participating in a Surfrider beach clean-up is a popular way to make a difference. Chipotle is determined to serve you food grown by a small organic farmer. Join a non-profit like, the world’s premier research and education foundation addressing marine plastic pollution. Founder, Charlie Moore, has an organic community garden in Long Beach, as if he didn’t have enough to do! His book, Plastic Ocean, comes out October 27th. Looks like Solana Beach will be the first city in San Diego County to ban the bag.
Challenges persist: A friend from Argentina was lamenting the invasion of Buenos Aires by Starbuck’s where traditional coffee shops had always utilized ceramic cups, but now it’s paper, polystyrene, or plastic. Yuk! How can you drink hot coffee or tea from anything but a ceramic cup? “Is there anyone at home?” A young woman I met who works for a sports shoe company in Orange County admitted they were getting a lot of flak for manufacturing everything in China. She also told me she had never heard of “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”
“Well, I can ease your pain.” To learn more about the epidemic of plastic infecting our land, water, etc., check out Algalita’s research and science-based education programs. I promise you will be enlightened by what you learn. “Just nod if you can hear me.”
“When I was a child, I caught a fleeting glimpse out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look but it was gone. I cannot put my finger on it now. The child is grown, the dream is gone. I have become comfortably numb.” Paralyzed into inaction is not an option. Rock on into a pesticide-and-single-use-plastic-free world!