How long does it take to open our eyes?
The case of plastic traces the curve of understanding by showing the conflict between convenience and value.
Plastic was invented in 1920. Around 1960 humans started using disposable plastic profusely. One of the greatest inventions ever. You could use cutlery, plates and cups and throw them away! Likewise, we could use plastic bags and toss them. Well, that’s what disposable means. It just got out of hand, or we didn’t realise that there’s a certain number of people inhabiting planet earth, and we aren’t so good at multiplication.
‘Buy – consume – toss.’
The perfect innovation for everyday life, and no one considered any side effects. For about 50 years, at least. Till one day, we realised the oceans are full of disposable plastic. And that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans!
So, it took about 60 years to notice that single-use plastic was polluting oceans. Finally, the EU banned plastic in 2021, but the damage is done.
Sixty years to open our eyes. And even now that is known, people do not worry much about that.
Learning the lesson
Will it take us that long for technology too? Since we are kindly invited to change a device every year. Or for furniture? Which, of course, is cheap but made to self-destruct within the shortest time possible.
Or for clothing, because ‘the industry of cheap’ is flourishing! People want more! ‘And who cares if I wear it for less than a season? I’ll throw it away!’
How can a different approach resonate in a world made of beautiful facades or people who don’t care?
It will resonate with a tiny niche of active thinkers who want to make the change. Because they care, they can make a difference.