Since we ran my blog post Say No to Plastics, several people have written in to say that they wholeheartedly agree with my most recent post, but feel helpless to do anything about the growing plague of plastic waste choking our planet. “What can one person do?” they ask. The short answer is “Plenty!”
What Can One Person Do?
While I am very proud of the fact that Princeton Audio bucks conventional wisdom to build our speakers out of locally sourced, sustainable tonewoods instead of plastic, I know that not everyone has the opportunity to make that type of decision. And the plague of plastic is a staggeringly huge problem, no argument, and a daunting one, at that. Surrendering in the face of the enormity of that problem would be easy. As I teach my kids, however, we don’t do surrender in my family. Hey, I completely understand that the enormity of a given task can sometimes seem so overwhelming that we can feel paralyzed into inaction. At such times, I tell my kids the same thing I tell my employees: Don't think about the cathedral; concentrate on the brick in front of you.
One Brick at a Time
The builders of the great cathedrals of Europe knew that they were beginning work that they would never live to see finished, but they didn't let that stop them. They saw themselves in the service of a noble cause, one greater than themselves, and were happy to enlist in it, even though it might take hundreds of years to accomplish. When it comes to fighting the growing plague of plastic, we all need to think the same way, and do what we can to serve a great cause. There are dozens of ways to help cure us of our addiction to plastics, and it's easy to start.
Jennifer Lavers and the other members of her research team created their important report in their spare time. If they can work thier hienies off to help sound the alarm about the growing plague of plastic after hours while most of the rest of us are nursing a beer, then, by gosh, we can at least do some of the little things to help cut down on our use of plastic. Take plastic soda straws, to cite just a single example.
Plastic Soda Straws Suck
Plastic straws are almost never recycled, and are one of the world’s worst contributors to the glut of plastic waste in our oceans. It used to be that every time I sat down in a restaurant I'd receive a glass of water with a plastic straw poking out of it. And every time, I'd extract the straw and lay it on the table, the waitress would collect it, and it would go into the garbage. The National Park Service estimates that 500 million plastic drinking straws are discarded every single day in the United States alone. That’s 175 billion plastic straws clogging the landfills and polluting our waterways every year or, to put it another way, that’s enough straws to wrap around the circumference of the Earth 2.5 times a day. Sure, some people need to use a straw because of a handicap or disability, of course. And yes, straws can make it easier for small children to drink without spilling, no doubt. But the rest of us are perfectly capable of sipping directly from our glasses, it is not a hardship for us to do so, and we should. Now when I sit down in a restaurant, I politely tell the waitress “No straw, please”, and it does not inconvenience me in the slightest. There are many ways to get plastic out of our lives, and they all add up to the building of a better world, one little act at a time.
So there ya go. Please, click on the many links in this post and you’ll find a number of ways to start down this better path, and you can connect with and support many of the worthy organizations that are trying to bring about this cleaner, healthier future.
Building the Cathedral
We can't force product manufacturers to just up and kick their addiction to plastic in favor of using natural, sustainable materials. And we cannot make these companies abandon their destructive policies of planned obsolescence that result in shoddy, plastic products that are used briefly and then discarded. What we can do, however, is vote with our wallets, and choose products that are designed to be upgradeable, that are adaptable, and will evolve along with our needs as we grow. If enough of us make those choices, if each one of us brings a brick, then slowly but surely a cathedral will rise. Believe it.
At Princeton Audio, we pledge that our products will be true, that they will be beautiful, and that they will last.