Why did it take us so long to wake up to drastic plastic?

Sound Off: Darragh Quinn … on the anti-plastic revolution

Why do we wait for years of possibly irreversible harm that set things back before we accept things need to change? Photograph: Abdul Raheem Mohamed/EyeEm/Getty Images

Why do we wait for years of possibly irreversible harm that set things back before we accept things need to change? Photograph: Abdul Raheem Mohamed/EyeEm/Getty Images

 

“Don’t use so much plastic, it is not good for the environment.” I have heard similar mantras about plastic as far as I can remember, but it was always one of those things that you knew was important but generally felt didn’t affect you much, so you didn’t really pay amount of attention it deserved.

But now, just like the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, where the sexual harassment of women – which was also not taken as seriously as it should have been for way too long – this issue is now rightly to the fore with irreversible might and permanence.

The negative impact of plastic in our world is now a mainstream issue, and the various ways it is destroying our planet and finding its way into our food system are becoming topics of concern and conversation all around the world. People are making significant changes in their lifestyles and daily habits to try and curb this plastic virus that is enveloping our planet.

The problem, of course, has been there and known for a long time, just like women’s rights issues. You have to wonder why it takes us until we reach such levels of depravity and crisis before we take things seriously and move issues into mainstream thinking.

Why do we wait for years of possibly irreversible harm that set things back before we accept things need to change? What is it about the human condition that allows us to destroy our world and demean sections of our population? And what will we wait for next to be critically harmed or destroyed before we take action and live a better way?

For now, let the anti-plastic revolution prevail.

Darragh Quinn is a writer living in Galway

Do you have something you’d like to Sound Off about? Email 300 words to magazine@irishtimes.com with Sound Off in the subject line

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