Research has shown that humans tend to resist the belief in realities such as climate change, plastic pollution, decreasing biodiversity, and the decline of mineral resources. Sigmund Freud, a psychologist, influenced the origin of the psychologic term “denial,” an inner defense mechanism that protects the ego against threats. We tend to deny knowledge and action to change because reality threatens our existence somehow. As the psychologist and environmentalist Per Espen Stoknes explains, “You may even care, be worried or in despair over the droughts, heat waves, and loss of habitat, but fear or learned helplessness keeps you from acting and reacting: There’s nothing I can do about it. Therefore it’s not real!”.
But it is real. We, as individuals, can do so much about it. Even though it seems so little in our perspective. Sustainability begins in tiny spheres, with small actions reverberating in our surroundings. Understanding this perspective moved me from a frustrated victim of an unsustainable world to a transforming agent. And spontaneously, my universe has become more and more sustainable. When small actions towards sustainability became part of my lifestyle, my reality became a little bubble of sustainability. This bubble is reverberating to new ways of living, little by little, and inspiring other people around me to change their patterns and habits. I’m also influencing through my consumption patterns. Every time that I bring my container to takeaway food, I make someone realize that it may be time for other solutions than continuously using the single-use plastic boxes.
To a certain degree, we all have learned about the world’s plastic pollution crisis and the dangers it represents for the marine life, for the well-being of the planet and human health. But we keep producing and consuming virgin single-use plastic, like if this problem does not exist. In our current, present times, 51 trillion microplastic particles litter our oceans and seas (UN Marine Conference 2017), yet we are still behaving and consuming with an old mindset, with a linear mentality of taking-making-using, and throwing it away. The change is happening at a much slower pace than needed. But you and I have the power to turn our mental frame (mindset) into a new reality, and with the little actions, we do our part towards a transformation. Change starts with a small step. One small step affects the world around us.
Here are some suggestions on how you can take your next steps:
Reuse: Always carry a reusable bag and avoid single-use bags. Bring your reusable coffee cup and water bottle when going out. Bring a reusable container to a restaurant when you consume take away.
Refuse: Refuse disposable plastic material such as forks, knives, spoons, stirrers, cotton buds and straws, and unnecessary plastic package. Go for the unpacked fruits and veggies in the market instead of plastic ones. Prefer to buy soap and shampoo in bars instead of the liquid form. Prefer to buy refills for products. Plastic balloons are by far the most dangerous plastic a seabird can swallow, so please avoid balloons at a party.
Recycle: Recycle the plastic you use and no longer need. Sort your plastic waste as efficiently as possible. Wash out any waste residues before disposing of it in the proper waste bin.
Together, we can do better. We can take action to stop producing endless waste and help other people flourish in the journey of sustainability, and the bubble of a sustainable world grows through our small efforts.