Plastic is poisonous to humans, animals and the planet. Unfortunately, it is an integral part of our daily lives. What’s more, every bit of plastic we have created still exists, and will never leave this planet. Latest research shows that since the 1950’s we have created about 9 billion tonnes of plastic – enough to cover all of Argentina, ankle deep. Of this, only 9% has been recycled, 12% has been incinerated, and 79% of it is sitting in a landfill. There will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
There is abundant information online about plastic pollution, its toxic impact, the urgency with which this issue needs to be dealt with, and what we can start doing immediately. A good resource to begin educating yourself with is: http://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/
What’s not talked about enough is what some amazing people are doing to find sustainable solutions that reduce plastic pollution. Here are some extraordinary examples:
4Ocean: Started by two surfers devastated by the amount of plastic they saw in the oceans, 4Oceans was born to fund and initiate ocean clean ups. Each recycled bracelet you buy from them funds the removal of 1 pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines. In less than 2 years, 4Ocean has removed 588,818 pounds of trash, operates out of multiple countries and employs over 150 people worldwide.
Aarohana: Launched in 2015 by two former IT professionals Amita Deshpande and Nandan Bhat, Aarohana is a social enterprise that upcycles waste plastic into handcrafted fabric that is used to make funky bags, home decor and office utilities. In the process, it provides a livelihood to members of a tribal community in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, a union territory in Western India. They collect plastic trash from the oceans, sanitize it, and then weave the plastic thread into usable items with a traditional handloom. Check them out here – great for daily use, or as a gift. More on their story and inspiration here.
Eco Domum: Founded by Carlos Daniel Gonzalez, Eco Domum builds sustainable and affordable housing for those living under the poverty line in Mexico using recycled plastic. The startup works with local trash collectors in Puebla to get the plastic they need to build the homes. Each house uses around 2 tonnes of plastic, is about 430-460 square feet with 2 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom. The house can be ready in a week and costs a meagre $273 to build. Yes, I couldn’t believe it either.
Madiba: A non-profit in Cameroon started by student Ismael Essom Ebone makes fishing boats out of plastic bottles. The boats or ‘ecological canoes’ are strong and seaworthy; they address the plastic issue, help local fisherman, and ultimately help the local economy.
In a nutshell, all you might need to start with something is a little bit of imagination and the belief that you can do it. These stories are so encouraging and mind-opening. Nothing is impossible!
Know of any such ideas whose story needs to be told? Please write in, we would love to feature them here.