BOYS DON’T TRY
Guy’s, lets talk about plastic…
by David Palfrey
David Palfrey is an Underwater Filmmaker & Photographer who has worked in the Underwater Imaging business around Southeast Asia, Australasia, the South Pacific and beyond. With conservation at the heart of his images, David is an avid supporter of the plastic free movement, and has since returned to the epicentre of marine biodiversity to help spread this message. Moving forward, David is in the process of founding his own underwater production and training facility based in Indonesia, and hopes to help create more engaging and creative content to help conserve this blue planet.
We all know that single-use plastic is a big issue. Divers are perhaps more conscious because we see the damage and have a passion for the natural world. I’ve seen first hand how the smallest, most seemingly insignificant plastics can destroy life in the ocean. I see the noodle packet, the ice cream wrapper and that one plastic bag wrapped around a coral, stuck to an anemone or worse.
We often see our human impact in dive locations, shake our heads and scoff with disgust at that trash floating by, then go and open a bag of Doritos. But where is that missing link?
We think that because we put it in that bin that it goes ‘away’. Consider that most of these world-class dive locations may not have access to anything other than a landfill. Well, the wind blows, the river flows and it can all end up in the sea. Most of that trash is most likely not from local villages or resorts, but travels entire oceans until the wind blows it ashore for us to see.
It’s not just about proper disposal, it’s about considering the need for it in the first place. So it’s time to change our habits, skip that chocolate bar, pick up the slack and set an example.
These days the plastic free movement is quite prominent. It’s easier and easier to find plastic alternatives and become more conscientious and sustainable with our daily habits. Leading the charge are many inspiring influencers, Plastic free mermaid, plastic freedom, zero waste home etc. These people lead by example, they buy, create, repurpose and inspire on the daily, yet one thing stands out – they’re all women. Why is this? There’s plenty of every day items that men use just as much as women. The big 4 (bags, straws, coffee cups and water bottles) being the main culprits, and the easiest to find alternatives to in this day and age. But what about buying a high quality reusable razor and using a bar soaps instead of shaving creams and shampoos? Where are those guys? Do they exist? Am I alone?
Why are us men lagging behind with the charge? Well, I believe we’re not necessarily; we’re just not talking about it, because it’s not the usual guy talk. And I for one would like that to change.
A big challenge that the plastic free movement faces is peer pressure. This one may sound a bit silly, but studies have shown men are less likely to talk about issues that concern them, and when you’re in a supermarket with friends, family or otherwise, there can be this unspoken pressure to buy plastic products when you’re with them. They may not really understand why you’ve chosen to make this change in your life, they may think its pointless or think you’re becoming a radical. They’re simply not taking the global issue as seriously as you. If these are people whose feelings and opinions you care about, it can become uncomfortable. But stick to your guns, start the conversation, educate and hopefully inspire them to give it a go too. They should respect you all the more for it in the end. You don’t have to start making your own homemade recipes for toothpaste and deodorant, there are plenty of companies doing that for you.
Don’t feel pressured by the other side either. No one likes a fanatic shoving his or her agenda down their throat. If you need something that happens to be in plastic, you CAN make exceptions! The point is that every little helps, and if you start small, its far less overwhelming.
Another challenge is apathy, the fear that its already too late and there’s no point trying. You don’t have to switch to being totally plastic free right away, that will almost never work. But the key is to turn it into a habit. Start with one thing, then once you’re happy with your alternative, try another, and another. It becomes automatic and second nature to reach for that glass jar or paper mushroom bag in the fruit and vegetable section instead of the plastic one. Chances are you’re automatically buying all these products in plastic now without thinking of it, so make a few switches and see how easily you can start to automatically avoid some too.
Now here is another fear, the cost. That glass jar I mentioned may cost a little more than the homebrand plastic tub, but the quality will most likely be higher, and the product often healthier. But there are other ways you can save some money that will also help the planet. Stop snacking! Almost all those delicious sugars and candies are packaged in plastic. Bulk buy! Some nuts and fruit come happily wrapped in their own protective skin. Think of the added health benefits! Eat more frequent smaller meals to avoid cravings and drink more water! Or if you adore snacking, make your own chocolate, cakes and cookies. Changing your diet and eating more vegetables can be one of the best ways to make a difference, avoid all that excessive plastic packaging meat comes in and keep that belly in check so there’s more room for beer. Win-win.
It’s time to step up our game. I encourage more of you to talk about this growing problem, and ways we can all improve. Because if we don’t, it doesn’t feel real. And action is correlated to awareness. Simply spreading the message can help.
Lets consider the benefits of switching to a plastic free lifestyle:
- 1. It’s living for the planet, it’s our only home after all, and right now she needs our help more than ever.
- 2. This movement IS growing, and it’s better to be part of the solution than the problem. You’re sacrificing your own creature comforts for the planet. That’s a pretty selfless act in itself and something to be proud of.
- 3. You’re setting an example. Positive male role models are somewhat lacking in today’s line-up of world leaders, so change must come from us everyday folk, the next generation looks to us. If we demand change, big brands will follow and this will all get a lot easier.
- 4. You can inspire. We don’t need one person doing it perfectly, we need everyone doing it imperfectly, the knock-on effect can be considerable and if you inspire one more person to give it a go, then consider your work well done.
Images: David Palfrey / Ylva Hendricks / Laura Stokes