[OPINION] Pleading for the oceans, pitching for the future
In February 2018, I had the honor to board the iconic “Rainbow Warrior” during its “Climate Justice Ship Tour“ in the Philippines. It is the first purpose-built environmental campaigning ship specifically made for Greenpeace, and is one of the most energy-efficient ships in the high seas today.
Intended to support Filipinos most affected by the brunt of climate change, the tour inspired solidarity in local communities across the nation. Filipinos bravely faced fossil fuel corporations to demand that they take responsibility for the climate crisis. This year, the most iconic ship in the Greenpeace fleet returns to our islands to campaign against one of the greatest threats presently affecting every form of life on Earth: plastic pollution. (READ: Philippine survey shows 'shocking' plastic waste)
Plastic is not just a waste disposal problem. It does not just stem from a lack of discipline and littering. Plastic pollution is an issue that urgently needs policy and power to ultimately change its path of destruction.
Ignorance is not an excuse
Before I began my humble journey as a volunteer for the non-profit organization Communities Organized for Resource Allocation (CORA), we had no idea of how much we did not know. Although we had never considered ourselves to be experts or scientists, we were everyday citizens with a burning desire to make a difference. Even if we had no idea where or how to begin, we believed that the issue of garbage and littering involves a mission that any person could be a part of and easily create a positive impact for the world.
We believed that if every single human being on the planet stopped littering, there would be nothing to clean-up.
However, our coastal clean-up adventures seemed like opening a pandora's box that led to an endless path of horrific discoveries about the true effects of plastic pollution on people and the planet.
How in the world did we live our lives not knowing what the world is doing to our environment on a daily basis?
Every day, we are seeing campaigns bombarding social media and the news about various global issues. In this day and age, ignorance of the truth can no longer be an excuse for inaction.
Choosing between planet and plastic
Coastal clean-ups do aid in recovering the plastic that is already out there, and this type of volunteer action positively contributes to the rehabilitation of polluted ecosystems. However, it took a few projects for us to realize that our efforts were futile unless the production of single-use plastics is stopped completely. (READ: Single-use plastic ban in Mimaropa proposed)
On a planet of almost 8 billion people, landfills can no longer be considered as solution for the waste generated by a rapidly growing population. The simple acts of reducing use, recycling, composting, and making an effort to lower our daily carbon footprint are important in creating a sustainable future for all. But above all, more responsibility should be exercised by people, organizations, and entities who can – and must – do more.
We are at the dawn of a new era, and as we transition into a new way of life, we look to our political leaders and to the people in power to lead the way toward a more sustainable future.
The banning of plastics has been pledged by many nations, and some have already begun their plastic-free journey. But we must not forget that local communities will need assistance as we progress and move forward. (WATCH: What can you do about plastic pollution)
As what Barack Obama said, “we are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it.” In the same vein, I say, we are the last generation who can solve the problem of single-use plastic pollution. The youth deserve the right not just to survive, but to thrive to their fullest potential in a beautiful world free from suffering, inequality, and the aftermath of climate change.
I am joining Greenpeace’s “Ship it Back” tour to show that I have signed up and that I have committed to the simple act of refusing single-use plastics in my everyday life. More importantly, I am adding my name to the three million people globally who are calling on corporations to address their single-use plastic production, and to tell them that we must usher in a new era of alternative delivery systems.
Join us aboard the Rainbow Warrior as we explore the oceans of the Philippines to campaign against plastic pollution. One signature stands for one less plastic item in our seas. Your daily choices are powerful. Together, let’s make each choice count. – Rappler.com
Antoinette Taus is the founder of the non-profit organization CORA, and the social enterprise “The Sustainable Planet”. She is the United Nations Ambassador for DG 14: Life Below Water, the “Clean Seas Pilipinas” Movement, and the United Nations Development Program. She is also an ambassador and environmental champion for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The Rainbow Warrior is in the Philippines for the “Ship it Back” tour to campaign against plastic pollution. Sign the petition via www.greenpeace.org.ph/shiptheplasticback.