There is a big problem in the world today with pollution, and most of us accept this… But what many people do not understand is how these problems should be solved. There are many false ideologies and schemes which lead us to believe that we are helping the environment but in reality, there are other actions that we do which have much more serious effects on the environment.
Technology and innovation will have a big part to play in helping the world as we move towards making it cleaner and carbon neutral, but more important that this is education and shifting peoples mindset so they follow the truth.
As Nelson Mandela said:
”Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
The truth is, not enough people understand the real problems and how to address them. Littering proves this immensely. Throwing rubbish into nature is not something we have to do, yet some people still choose to do it which means a nice beautiful area can become a horrible place. This is more prevalent in developing countries but it is not necessarily because they are less developed, much of it is a mindset.
It may seem surprising how 48% of people in the UK admit to littering, but a much larger percentage do the same in countries where pollution is far worse than in Europe, and the only reason this happens is because they haven’t shifted their thinking.
It’s mindset, if people just thought more into the future how them throwing their plastic bottle was actually going to make the area WORSE – for a LONG TIME and didn’t practice the habit of littering, these places which were once nice would actually stay nice.
Even though many people may UNDERSTAND that the plastic they leave will not naturally disappear for hundreds of years, it needs a change in MINDSET to for change to happen.
In areas lucky enough to have regular clean ups, mostly urban areas, people still litter and create work for somebody else, which is even more of a dysfunctional mindset. So before investing massively in a huge cleanup projects, people first have to be conditioned to not litter, otherwise this behaviour will only continue and maybe even.. worsen.. since people realise that their waste is cleared up when they leave it in the street.
The same truth about education and mindset follows through in recycling and reducing plastic. Once people understand the problems around the world, they’re more likely to take action to help the problems. What the media broadcast can have a massive effect on how consumers behave, which is very positive and very real.
There has been a 53% reduction in single-use plastics in the UK in the last 12 months. This is mostly because of campaigns and media, particularly those shown on the Blue Planet series. This is so significant it has been named the ”Attenborough effect” and goes to show with the right education and systems in place, both companies and consumers will shift to becoming more sustainable.
If such a significant change can be achieved in such a short space of time, then surely a lot more of environmental efforts should be put into raising awareness with valuable interesting content, just like the Blue planet series so successfully did.
The content must be interesting, factual, amazing and spectacular, and contain a clear call to action message which will enable viewers to actually do something which has a real impact.
Sometimes though, people think that they’re doing the right thing and having an impact, but really they’re not helping much at all. This is also because they have been mislead or misinformed to believe unrealistic things.
For example, a lot of effort has been put into making consumers recycle more.
All the campaigns of reduce, re-use, recycle were effective in changing consumer behaviour but the reality is, recycling is not enough. Far too many people think they are doing ”their bit’ buy recycling their food products. But really recycling doesn’t necessarily reduce the plastic production problem and much of the material that we think we’re recycling doesn’t end up being recycled. This doesn’t mean that what’s being done is not helping, it just means that there is a lot more that needs to be done and the focus needs to be more on generally reducing our plastic consumption, littering and most of all global carbon footprint. To be more sustainable requires long term thinking and understanding the bigger picture with plastics; understanding where the materials go, whether they are really recyclable, how we can use alternative materials, and how to reduce usage entirely.
There are certain plastics which can easily be recycled into totally usable products over and over again, these plastics don’t need to be reduced in use for a sustainable global situation. It’s the products which cannot easily or economically be recycled that we need to pay more attention to. And above all, we have to look at carbon footprint a lot more, and and reducing littering everywhere, rather than labelling all plastic bad. Plastic is a brilliant material which facilitates a lot of technology and products, we should continue to use it as long as it is done sustainably and is not done at the expense of nature and wildlife.