Reform cannot be neat or cheap
There are several alternatives to this harrowing polluting material. It has unnatural adaptability that is irresistible to us warped mortals. We aspire to have this power to adapt unnaturally by escaping the required labor. In this formulaic quest to skip time and effort, plastic became immortal.
Some of its sustainable alternatives existed before its invention; some, after, and many are being invented every day. They were always there but phased out in the synthetic race. They decay, unlike their usurper. Their existence is, but acknowledgment isn’t.
Collective consumerism hence, media is slowly shifting to the sustainable persona. We can read about many inventive ways to reuse and recycle plastic. We read and watch the content feeling good about the innovations, and the next day, receive our groceries safely shrouded in plastic.
The prime cause of this terrible crisis is plastic manufacturing. Biggest, not only. There is a constellation of other reasons that are neither economic nor materialistic. They are exercised (by consumerism) but not stated. It is coded in the human DNA as biases ingrained long before the invention of plastic. This constellation is plastic. No, it is neither visible nor palpable.
Convenience — ease in accessibility. Nothing can beat convenience unless that nothing is a physical force or a dire need. In the absence of these two factors, convenience flourishes. But the premise of this argument has an either/or fallacy, and it is untruthful. We can beat the inertia of convenience by our will. Also, can rethink the validity of this convenience.
It is easy to derive, by closely observing nature, that all living beings struggle to survive, thrive but do not cling to convenience at the cost of wellness. They prey and scavenge but do not hoard. They could if they wanted to, but they don’t, because in the natural world living beings can trust. We are the beings of the same world but do not live in it.
Our world is detached from the natural world by our delusion. We are forcefully living in that delusion because it is convenient. I live in it too. If I have to state my clinginess to convenience, I would say I had much in the past. Now, I prefer health over convenience. This delusion is entrenched in humans for ages. I am in it, but I am aware of it.
This awareness comes with immense stress and frustration in all forms. I wish I could say that it doesn’t affect me. Constant anger and resentment come with this awareness. And I can see I am not the only one.
Consumers are frustrated, but manufacturers are holding on to the cheap plastic realm rather too tightly. The reason is profit, yes, but norms of business never go against the consumers. Yet manufacturers do not care because they know the consumers have no better option. One would have to consume to live. We can say no to plastic packaging when there are economical and quality alternatives.
Are there no such alternatives? Yes, there are; even much better ones. Only they are not convenient. Brand trust is nothing but convenience trap. It takes no time to switch from one convenient brand to another the moment the latter becomes more convenient. This convenience might look cheap, but it is way too costlier. It comes at the cost of health.
Yet, the fault is of the manufacturer. Manufacturers are not budging because we are doing what is easy: blaming the consumers. This blame-shifting stalled the action on climate change and muted the science. Pollution does not affect everyone equally. The effect at the top of the capitalistic hierarchy is less intense than the lowest. And it is convenient for some.
The some that we want to be one day. But we do not live our lives in that “one day” but right here, right now. Striving for that “one day” is convenient. Ignoring where we are now is convenient than facing the odds that are there.
If manufacturers do not care, consumers will have to take control of their here and now. Power has always been in their hand. It is the ability to acknowledge that is impaired. Consumers who have reached the awareness to discard unhealthy convenience can become manufacturers that the world needs.
It is a reform. And no reform comes easy. The process of reform needs uprooting and reploughing, keeping the focus on the goal and the now. It requires no sacrifice but nurturing cultivation. We must live well in the now to establish change.