LIVING WITH THE ENEMY: MICRO-PLASTICS
LIVING WITH THE ENEMY: MICROPLASTICS
A recent, ground-breaking study is published. Microplastics has been found in human blood blood for the first time. The tiny particles were found in 80% of the people tested and the discovery shows that these particles could travel around the body, lodging in organs and potential damage to human cells. Apart from the data and analysis provided, one factor still remains bleak - the overall impact of microplastics on human health is still unknown.
The data was no shocker for most people familiar with the plastic pollution issue since the last two decades, escalating year after year. It was only time, funding and research where humans were next after literally every other species has been detected with microplastic or ingested plastic in their bodies. However, the last two decades have also witnessed a changing shift, an increasing awareness of a transition of absolute dependence on plastic towards a zero/low-plastic world.
Reducing our human dependence on plastic and cleaning up a lot of what is present out there still stands as our silver lining in putting a handle to the escalating issue. Plastic pollution has transcended beyond one subject and sector, from environmental protection towards now, a public health issue.
One of the key things, such glaring, doomsday news does, is vanish from human minds. Yes, vanish. People tend to numb out the reality of things and circumstances they feel helpless about. We have witnessed this in the data coming from people's initial and gradual response to climate change, natural hazards, disasters and also the recent pandemic. Humans are incredibly capable of numbing out pain and suffering for their survival. However, unlike climate change, natural hazards, disasters or a pandemic which has scientists, governments and industry working towards mitigating them, plastic pollution comes down to individual choices of use and consumption.
One learning in the city of Mumbai from all the attempted and repeated plastic bans on industry was that, it didn't work. Consumer demand for single-use plastic far outweighs the collective ban, and its intended purpose. If humans don't understand instinctively that something is bad for them, their children and their own health, plastic bans and such rapid policy measures have little to no impact. In that sense, we are no different from the pelicans or sea-turtles ingesting plastic. We know it's a foreign, possibly harmful object, but use and also ingest it (in microplastics), anyway.
Here is how we make the switch. We educate ourselves, our children, our community. As part of our ocean friendly living workshops, we have curated a holistic list of things you can do today to educate, reduce and collectively work on the issue no longer limited to environmental damage.
OPEN THE EYES OF MY HEART, OH LORD: A beautiful hymn playing during Sunday mass around Goa's cool summer mornings. Plastic pollution, however generic and 'everyone knows it all' we may think, isn't that clear when it comes down to spiritual opened eyes and hearts - our own usage. Much of the single-use plastic (SUP) comes from decisions beyond our consent. Food delivery packaging, SUP around our work-place and home, the single-use plastic we feel we absolutely have no control over, because as it turns out, nobody actually asked you.
So starts with awareness, to ourselves, to where is our SUP consumption beyond our control and how do we request control over those decisions. Few food delivery apps have begun asking for cutlery options and small-businesses have now switched over from plastic packaging completely. Plastic is still very important in non-replacement options like medical supplies and bulk logistics. Beyond those, a bulk of SUP is from you and me and our everyday lifestyle we are completely unaware of.
UPCYCLE: One of the key things to do in 2022 is to find out a private recycler in and around your area. This is in addition to the raddhi-wala who takes your paper and metal and other easily recyclable things. (Today may also be a good to call them and recycle). Upcycling SUP through Pinterest DIYs (you may be shocked of the amount of things you can do with a shampoo bottle). Visit private recyclers and understand the process- where does plastic end up and how you can ensure it doesn't in landfills, in the sea and on farms.
3. GROW AND EAT ORGANIC: Micro-farming greens and other produce like a herb garden for example is a great way to understand organic produce - vegetables, fruits, fish from industrialised options. New York's citizens have started a skyscrapper-terrace movement of farming food on building roof-tops which has begun supplying a portion of the city's food production demand. When you know where you're food is coming from, and who your local sellers are, it consistently reduces the need for long logistics and it's allied plastic packaging at every stage to provide fresh produce.
4. EDUCATE AND BRAINSTORM BEYOND BIASES: Paying it forward, getting furious on your local nariyal wala (tender coconut vendor) or fruit/vegetable vendor won't help reduce SUP. Helping them, sharing the data we know and more so collectively in finding economical options to transition from single-use plastics is more impactful, with a longer reach to transition faster and better.
We are here. Microplastic possibly runs through our blood and medi-tech may find a way to help the human body. But, in all it's post-facto work, the precautionary rule to not further an issue across species is to reduce it from us, the homo sapiens and transition, in ways we can - small, conscious and impactful. A Sunday to hope and a lot of self-work!
See you next week!
If you have reached here, congratulations! Feel free to check out our ocean friendly living courses and our range of products for affordable transitions.