Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Mixed Messages

We've recently returned from a US beach vacation at a popular beach destination. It definitely got my #BlueMind on with time hearing the waves hit the shore, frolicking in the water while the tides coming in, and also having relaxing pool time when I wanted a lower key, less sandy, close to "home" place to hang out.

We stayed in a condo situation, so we would walk to the local grocery store to get some provisions to have some meals at home. Given that, we produced trash and recycling.  

It was here I started to noticed the mixed messages in the community:

There was no recycling. And sadly, the bulk of our waste was plastic. Yet we had one option--the trash chute. 

How is this possible in a community where all of this is in place:

  • Environmental tourism was definitely key with the beach, kayaking, boating, biking, and other outdoor adventures.
  • Everywhere we went, there were notifications about being aware of nesting sea turtles--encouraging beach patrons to turn off lights at night, using red-light flashlights so as not to confuse the turtles, not disturbing any nests that are found, and filling holes on the beach for safe passage.
  • The clerk at the grocery store, as she was packing our items in a paper bag, said that they hadn't used plastic bags in this county for approx 5 years.
  • Several of the restaurants we went to had either no straws or paper straws. One of the cafes we went to had in their menu that they were plastic-straw-free since 2016.
  • Beach messaging was highly dedicated to leaving no trace behind.

I don't understand how there can still be such mixed messages here in 2023 in a community that is seemingly so eco-friendly. Yes, perhaps it is on the establishment where we stayed that there was no recycling. But, there also a lot of plastic cup consumption at the beach bars we visited. Again, glass at the beach (along with the potential of inebriated patrons) don't mix. But yet, that's also a lot of plastic waste. Were they recycling? That I don't know.

Sadly, it's the world in which we live in. Add in, we are completely greenwashed in that recycling will solve the problem. Yet according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), globally, only 9% of plastic is recycled--which is better than the 4% of plastics that are recycled in the U.S. In the US, 73% of plastics land in the landfill. 

How are we still here in 2023. 

I have no answers, other than in part it starts in the stores and with production, and certainly ends in consumption (which has "quadrupled in the last 30 years"). That, and of course, the idea that we can--and should--do better!

Innovators! We need you to solve our problems! What can we do to have fewer mixed messages--not only the beach, but everywhere!

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