Madmen. Have you seen it? It's a TV show that takes place in the mid 1960's. Don Draper is the charismatic businessman working in Manhattan while his family lives in the suburbs. I'd like to talk with you about one scene that has been stuck in my mind for years. You probably won't recognize it as it wasn't exactly a dramatic moment in the traditional sense. Stick with me though, because despite the lack of drama, and short length of the scene, it’s impactful.
Click the short video above to watch for yourself. Draper and his family are having a lovely picnic outside on a beautiful sunny afternoon. The scene has all the hallmarks of a picture perfect family outing: birds chirping, a light breeze, and that 60's summer fashion that makes you want to abandon your apartment in the city for a white picket fence.
The family is packing up their picnic gear when Don takes his beer can and nonchalantly throws it into the woods. Did you gasp? “That’s recyclable!” I want to shout at him. Then, Betty, his wife, picks up their picnic blanket and shakes it around, the way you would to get the leaves off. Except it’s not leaves that come tumbling off the blanket, its trash. And lots of it. I'm sure at this point you're thinking what I'm thinking..."Silly Betty...now you have to pick it all up and put it in the trash or recycling." The family gets in their car and the scene ends with them driving away, their trash blowing in that lovely summer breeze.
I first watched this seemingly inconsequential scene many years ago. It has been parked somewhere in the depths of my mind ever since, just waiting for me to bring it back to the surface because of how much it bothered me. And I hope it bothers you too! I felt like I was a helpless witness to what I would say was the era at the beginning of the end. By this I mean, not only could I not go pick up the trash, but I also couldn't go back and warn the 1950's and 60's about the beginning of our seemingly unstoppable descent into madness, a world of single-use plastic. I wish I could warn them about the consequences of convenience. The scene is a reminder that our cultural norms throughout the world have lead us to prioritize plastic over the health of our beautiful planet, our wildlife, and ultimately, ourselves.
If you're looking to point fingers at the culprits who normalized single-use plastics during our meals, point them in part, at the fast food industry. With the car era coming into full swing, these convenient businesses capitalized on the car, and took over our thoughts about "what's for dinner?", they also influenced our idea of how "normal" it is to simply discard everything we eat and drink with. They normalized the ability to use a straw, a cup, a knife, fork, spoon, container, plate, coffee cup, lid, bowl etc., ONCE and discard it without another thought about those items again in your life.
Most people have spent their lives throwing everything away and never actually stopping to think about what happens to it. This is our new normal. But where has all this garbage been going for the last 70 plus years? It's been going into landfills and our waterways, our oceans, into our animals, our fish and back into us. That's where it's been going.
Did you know that most of our largest fast food chains opened between 1955 and 1970? McDonalds- 1955, Wendy's- 1969, Burger King- 1953, Taco Bell-1963. But with the invention of "fast food" we saw a massive increase in the acceptance and normalization of the "single-use plastic" concept. It has become so ingrained in our society that it has become a CHALLENGE to avoid receiving a plastic straw in my drink! Even when I order it and literally look someone in the eye and say: "No plastic straws please. They are not recycled and are horrible for the environment." Yep, that server usually comes back with a plastic straw sticking out of my drink. Sometimes I get two.
I'm sick of being a bystander, watching us kill our planet a little more each day, like scene after scene from the worst TV series I've ever watched. And this is why I've started Plastic Poachers with the extremely deep-seated hope and belief that people WANT to do better. That we CAN do better. And that we MUST do better. This planet and all of its creatures deserve it. And all future generations do too. Humans are the stewards of this earth. We have to stop single-use plastics from plaguing the world and we have absolutely GOT to clean up our existing mess.
Plastic Poachers will continue working to provide you with information that can help you become a better, more aware consumer. We want to make it easier for you to avoid plastic as much as possible and be proud of your work and contributions to the cause, no matter how small. Some of the upcoming topics will be: More on the fast food industry and what you can do to stop using their single-use plastics. More on WHAT plastic actually IS because many people do not realize that it comes from oil! And more information on the development of our Eco-Boxes.
If you gotten this far, thank you so much for caring or even for just being curious! I sincerely hope you will continue to support this cause and choose your planet over plastic.