How my contribution killed the family

After you die

(3 min 30 seconds to read)

I park the car in the lot and get out. Almost forgot, I reach back and grab the large bag that’s stuffed to the stretching point, but it’s light as air and it swings in my arm easily as I walk.

I enter the grocery store and there it is. My friend had been right. There was a large bin marked “Recycle plastic bags”. I put my collection of plastic into the bin. Plastic bags didn’t get recycled by my city’s recycling program, so I had to find this alternative.

I use plastic every day, but I recycle, so I thought it was ok. But recycling costs something more than money: It costs energy. The recycling process needs electricity to run, so we burn coal to not hurt the environment so much. In the end, is the environment better off? I don’t know.

Do I need to use so much plastic? No. But it would require some effort to find food that didn’t come packaged in plastic. And I could do it. We all could. Otherwise, we’re creating a plastic world. Plastic is in our waterways and our oceans. And it’s being found in fish…  after it blocks up their intestines or chokes them.

We can probably exist with less ocean and fresh water. When drinking water becomes limited, we would ration it, and we could live.  We could suffer along with an ecosystem whose water cycle is choked by contamination and overwhelmed by islands of algae feeding  off our waste water. We would survive, but not by today’s consumption levels. The current population won’t survive with a water cycle being overwhelmed by our use.

Imagine a future where we’ve created gigantic water ships to clean our planet’s water…after our environment becomes so polluted that it cannot be ignored. The ships are constructed like whales, wide-mouthed to scoop up the tons of floating plastic debris. And inside these large machines the plastic will be processed, boxed into plastic packages to be melted down and recycled when they return.

Our technology might save our children. Or maybe they won’t need saved. Maybe our technology will save our grandchildren, or their children. Maybe it will keep our Earth clean and habitable. The beautiful heaven we’ve forgotten about.

Or else our technology will find the energy source, create the outer space habitats, and transport us to a new residence, away from our natural home. Maybe on Mars or some giant rotating space station. If we can grow an Earth habitat in these places it will be wondrous. And if not, we can live in cells, stark and sterile, but we will at least be surviving, and better than dying on this planet. The rich people might be privileged to have their cells decorated by fake plastic plants, colored green as a reminder of our original home.

Either way, we will adapt. Because that is what we do.

Until then, I continue to collect my plastic and take it to be recycled. Why? Because it’s the least I can do. Or I could get more science education, or lead others who already have it, and try to develop the tech that will make more sustainable consumption, with easy energy from the sun, or giant water ships that eat plastic.

All our contributions kill the family. Our contributions of plastic, thrown away daily to accumulate somewhere. The piles of it grow and grow, day after day, to be received by our future family: The unseen family, because humanity will survive, however small and in whatever sad conditions.

And if I do nothing, then I’m not being accountable as a member of our society, as an individual of the world. A world that is heaven on earth, missed right before our eyes, until  it is truly missed, because it is gone.

Follow me and I will take you away from the everyday.

Please feel free to pass this along if you think others would enjoy it.


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