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Byron Shire
February 1, 2023

S Sorrensen’s Here & Now: Nothing fantastic about plastic

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Image S Sorrensen

Lismore Monday, 3.20pm.

I have really cut down on my use of single-use plastic shopping bags. I don’t have a single single-use plastic shopping bag in my shack at the moment.

And I always have a re-usable cloth shopping bag on hand. In fact, I have about 200-300 of them in my car. I only ever remember buying one, but I must have bought two – because they have mated and multiplied in the back seat of the Superoo. Some have snuck, carrying supplies, into my shack under the cliffs. They end up hiding under the sink, but I’m onto their game and vigilantly keep returning them to the car.

I don’t buy vegetables or fruit packed in plastic. (I always take the blueberries out of their container before taking them to the check-out… Just joking. But how hard is it to buy blueberries without the plastic packaging?)

Yeah, my plastic usage is greatly reduced. Good on me. I’m doing the right thing.

But, you know what? The planet is still heading for environmental collapse.

Australians dump about 130,000 tonnes of plastic into the ocean each year. Sure, we don’t go to the beach and chuck our plastic into the surf – that would be outrageous. We carefully place the plastic in the appropriate plastic bin, and then, well, forget about it. We feel good, while an unworkable waste system pollutes land and groundwater with ever-expanding landfills and dodgy recycling schemes. Some of that plastic inevitably flushes out to sea.

Despite my plastic-reduction efforts, plastic pollution is on the increase.

I don’t know why I bother. It’s a ploy to make us feel good about ourselves while the corporations continue greasing our slide to chaos, polluting as normal, profits as usual.

It’s depressing. I slump back into the bench, take another slug of chai latte from my re-usable takeaway cup and watch people walking by. They seem happy. Too happy, given the reality.

Beside me, next to my bench, is a trio of bins with the different coloured lids.

The problem is that we don’t see the pollution we create. We are a tidy society. We bury or export our filth while keeping our streets spotless. It’s an illusion that keeps us from the truth. Plastic rubbish is still plastic rubbish even when it’s in a bin. Even when its holding blueberries in the shop.

I finish my latte and… throw my re-usable takeaway cup onto the footpath. I’ve had enough of the deception. A woman with high heels, thick lipstick and a tray of takeaway coffees looks at me aghast and steps around it.

I throw my Coles cloth shopping bag onto the footpath. Two schoolboys laugh and take a photo of me doing it.

I stand up, grab a bin and empty its contents onto the street. The boys run away.

‘The truth is rubbish!’ I yell at them, upturning the other two.

I run to the next set of bins, upturning them. Soon, the CBD is adrift in its own crap. People shake their heads in disgust at the amount of plastic. They realise that using a cloth shopping bag is not enough.

First Lismore, then in all the towns of Australia, people are emptying bins, chucking their rubbish onto the ground where they can see it. With demand for plastic falling  as citizens come face to face with the awful plastic reality piling up in the streets, the government increases subsidies to polluters. To no avail.

The ‘Truth is Rubbish’ movement spreads internationally, forcing citizens to confront their rubbish and they, in turn, force their governments to decrease pollution production.

All countries, except the Unites States, sign an agreement outlawing the creation of plastic.

The world is saved.

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  1. I am so fed up with all this plastic. We can’t get away from it no matter how hard we try. I am at the end of my tether with plastic, lack of admission to climate change/global warming. Multi nationals walking all over us. Hospitals on farmland, no water in the lower Darling etc. etc. Atmy mid eighty years I’m just tired of fighting it all & feel like just letting it happen. It probably won’t affect me in the long run. Just my and your descendants.


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