“The plastic crisis is a growing monster,” says Abigail Aguilar, Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines. And, we know it. We feel it when we’re overwhelmed by how much plastic garbage we personally churn out, and we see it strewn on our waterways, our streets, our beaches. For many of us, we are saddened by the reality of the plastic predicament. Greenpeace, however, sounds the alarm: Instead of being sad, we should be outraged.
The alarm comes during the Manila visit of Greenpeace flagship vessel, the Rainbow Warrior. The Rainbow Warrior, is the flagship vessel of Greenpeace intended for use in the organizaiton’s activities such as environmental protests and scientific excursions. Its tour in the Philippines is meant to call attention to the role of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) corporations in peddling single-use packaging over longer-lasting and more sustainable options. Think: One-time use sachets, flimsy plastic packaging, mindless wrappers—you know, the kinds of plastic we see and use (and carelessly dispose of—gasp!) every day.
During its current tour in the Philippines, the Rainbow Warrior will sail next to Cebu in its global “Ship It Back” campaign tour. It will make its rounds in Cebu and getting Visayans schooled about the realities of single-use plastic.
“While citizens are trying to clean-up our beaches, waterways, and communities of all the plastic garbage and debris, plastic production continues to rise and overwhelm us.... Clean-up activities are not enough. We have to stop single-use plastic at source if we really want to protect our environment and ourselves,” said Aguilar. This doesn’t mean that the clean-up drives, like the recent Manila Bay clean-up, are not important. Those efforts are relevant to drive awareness, but they are not enough.
Greenpeace is more forceful in its message and pointed out that consumers in markets like the Philippines are being blamed for the massive plastic pollution littering the streets and waterways. However, the organization says that “it’s the big corporations, mostly headquartered in Europe and the US, that produce the massive amounts of single-use plastic packaging, who need to give back to their consumers, especially to those with little disposable income who are not given choices and yet are at the forefront of having to deal with the mounting plastic garbage in their everyday lives.
Greenpeace reports: “Last year, the report ‘A Crisis of Convenience’ implicated top brands, and said that ‘the promotion of branded products—food, drink, cosmetics and cleaners—in one-way packaging, is one of the drivers of mass production, over-consumption and is significantly contributing to the plastic pollution crisis.’”
Greenpeace says that FMCG corporations take tons of profit from people who buy their goods in many small amounts. And, they leave the tons of plastic garbage for citizens like us to dispose of ourselves. “It’s a broken system: from massive plastic production, to the encouragement of throw-away habits among consumers, to failing garbage disposal. But FMCG companies have the resources and technology to invest in more sustainable delivery methods. What citizens and governments are doing right now is not enough. We should all pitch in to do more,” Aguilar added.
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over 39 countries and with an international coordinating headquarters in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Greenpeace is known for its direct actions and has been described as the most visible environmental organization in the world. Greenpeace has raised environmental issues to public knowledge and has influenced both the private and the public sector.
So, what can YOU do to help solve this problem? First, choose to NOT be part of the problem. Know the realities and effects. Then, start with yourself. Make a commitment to blot out single-use plastic from your everyday life. With collective effort to ditch the mindless support of single-use plastic, the big corps hopefully stop, look, listen...and own up to their responsibility in the plastic predicament.
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