It dawned on me when I was buying fruit in a local grocery store, how unnecessary plastic bags were for the apples and oranges – just to collect them for the checkout – at which point everything else was to be bundled in plastic. And so this thought of ludicrous wastage found a friend in the unlikely place of a new BBC series online, called 60-Second Idea. This is a simple format whereby philosophers, scientists, psychologists, and in this instance, historian David Abulafia, posits an idea in one minute that could change the world.
Abulafia simply outlined how everything we are surrounded by, and use, is constructed, at least in part, by plastic. This is killing the oceans as it’s not broken down, and creating landfills the size of countries. But, the crux of the idea was for the planet’s inhabitants to “stop using anything plastic for one day a year,” as a way to think about our unconscious actions and their impact. Would this solve the world’s problem? Of course not, but it would help to illustrate how we are enslaved by our habits and the ‘tools’ of our everyday lives. Just as there is a blackout day when everyone across the globe is supposed to not use electricity in the evening, this is the equivalent for a substance, and one that is unmanageable and hugely overused.
The idea is great, because humans forget to question the simple things in our lives that we take for granted, ultimately overcomplicating many things at the expense of the larger picture. Learning to re-learn is just as important as activism – in fact it is a form of activism. Ultimately, we are personally in charge of our collective future, so take a minute and think about what the necessities of your day are, how you orchestrate them and the impact those actions have around you; think of it as a supply chain conscience, and who knows it might just help you run your life a little better, with a greater positive impact on those around you.