I’m wondering why we need the reminder? Its trite to say ‘the environment is all around us’, so we must realise the state it’s in. The reality is that all things are relative and if there’s just a bit more litter today than we noticed last week, we’ll that’s not too bad is it? It’s human nature, and it’s a characteristic of human nature that allows us to not see what’s often bleeding obvious: that little-by-little humanity is degrading the very environment it depends on.
Here at frc environmental we’re firm believers in the mantra that says ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’, so whilst monitoring alone won’t restore our environment, perhaps it’s necessary to clearly illustrate ‘the state of things’. Is that just one more bit of litter I passed on the way to work, or does the trend show that since I’ve been coming to work that way, on average, I’m now walking past 11 more bits of litter? Eleven sounds (and is!) a lot more than ‘just 1 more’. But as I said, monitoring alone won’t restore the environment. We have to pick up the litter (remove the weeds, fill the voids, filter out the contaminants, ….. ).
The current push to ban plastic straws and single-use plastic bags serves as a great example. We know these items kill thousands of turtles and other marine life annually. Both plastic straws and single-use plastic bags are ‘discretionary’ – there are readily available substitutes (I recently bought a very stylish set of ultra-compact shopping bags made from parachute nylon – I just have to remember to take them when I heading to the supermarket ….), so a ban makes sense. But what about the millions of straws and bags floating around in our oceans and washing-up on our beaches. How long would it take to make a significant ‘dent’ in their abundance if every time we went to the beach, we each brought home a handful?