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Living Lightly column

Global Challenge to Reduce Plastic Use

By Elvie Rooney

A friend of mine and I recently returned from a backpacking trip from England to Croatia and all the while we couldn’t help but make comparisons.

We compared things from the pigeon populations to the ancient city architecture, from the weather to the fashion, but one constant source of discussion was the general awareness and activity surrounding environmental sustainability among populations.

In London, Paris and Milan, we noticed supermarket plastic bags were still commonplace and single-use plastics were unavoidable when eating out (cutlery came pre-packaged)!

The push for sustainability seemed hardly noticeable and during our journey we had to regularly refuse things considered normal to everyone around us.

This is not only a problem that is in Europe, nor in Australia but worldwide. There is still more that we can all do.

With our picturesque skylines and abundance of trees, it is easy to ignore our precarious environmental situation.

Our soil is rich with fertility and as our summer progresses, our main concern is consistent rainfall. But what will happen when micro-plastic build-up in our soil means that our soil starts to fail us?

An article in a 2016 edition of Science Direct stated that “the current intensification of the use of plastic materials in agriculture, although it has increased significantly the productivity, is also generating growing adverse effects on the environment of the agro-ecosystem.”

If plastics – of all types –  are not properly disposed of they lead to the pollution of everything around them, accumulating in our soils, with disastrous effect.

Most of us are generally aware of how plastic is affecting our planet, yet even as general awareness rises and with the recent bans in many countries on plastic straws, it is still easy to be complacent.

We all need to recognise that it’s time to take into account what our lack of action in the past has driven us to, and start taking the fate of our planet into our own hands.

This will probably mean considerable sacrifice on our part, but progress on this front will be significant, as every action we take from here on out will dictate the future of our children, our grand-children and our great-grand-children.

What world will they live in, in our wake?