I am one of maybe three people on the planet who actually gives a crap about the ramifications of all the plastic I will leave behind in this lifetime. Perhaps I’m exaggerating about there being only three other people that care, but not by much. There is an indelicate irony when a vegan atheist nihilist who has deliberately chosen never to have children cares about plastic and its waste products choking the planet to death. It’s not my goddamn problem. I firmly believe that when I’m done here, I’m done. Neither heaven nor hell exists for me unless I find out that I was wrong about reincarnation.
It’s your kids and grandkids that will be scrambling around begging for the extinction event while all the things that are beautiful about the Earth die (animals, trees, clean water and air) as I rest in eternal oblivion making food for worms. I won’t care that your descendants have never seen a live tiger or eaten a salmon. I won’t be conscious when generation 3012 tries to unsuccessfully tries to terraform a moon of Jupiter because the Earth is, for all intents and purposes, dead. If I do have any consciousness at all after death, trust that I won’t bother sticking around a planet of warlike, self-destructive morons who never evolved past a few math equations. Only a culture of vain,self-aggrandizing, convenience-addicted fools would come up with the ultimate torture of killing themselves slowly by poison. At least in the case of arsenic, a big enough dosage renders you dead after an hour of excruciating vomiting. Homo sapiens has chosen the slow road.
The accursed substance known as plastic was invented somewhere around the 1860’s as a mixture of cellulose and camphor. By the turn of the century, Bakelike, an early plastic, was used in everything from jewelry to coating for electrical wires. Bakelite made its immigrant inventor, Leo Baekeland, so rich that he was able to leave an enormous fortune to a great-grandson who would stab his mother to death in 1972, most likely because she made a lifelong (often successful) career of sexual dalliances with her own son. Nice.
The ocean is stuffed so full of plastic garbage that there is a floating hell of refuse known as the Pacific Garbage Patch. It contains an obscene 3.5 million tons of trash and it is the size of Texas. Even though the existence of this garbage patch and others like it does not bother you, I’m angry about it. None of us ask to be born into this world and not all of us love it here. We are brainwashed to believe that everything we use is disposable–my problem is mainly that I use my big brain to think rather than the usual alternatives. Plastic, even the stuff that gets recycled, is not biodegradable. Nothing will make it go away. Every time I buy a bag of lentils to feed my vegan ass, it comes in a plastic bag that will never rot. When I am done with the bag, I throw it in the garbage, because the lentil bean bag is not the type that can be recycled in my area. I am an active contributor to something I hate. Every time I drink a beverage out of a bottle, brush my teeth, or even put on socks, I make plastic waste. My socks came in a plastic bag. My computer has plastic coated wires, a plastic mouse, and plastic speakers. It is inescapable.
Even though I have spared the world a giant pile of urine-soaked Pampers and my non-consumption of all animals and their milk and eggs means I consume about 8 percent of the water and resources of a typical meat-eater, I still feel there is more that can be done. I am sad when I think of the plastic Darth Tater toy on my desk outliving me in an ocean garbage dump. Pray your great-great-great-grandkids won’t see him floating amidst a trans-Atlantic barge made of pop can rings, used maxipads, and Sit-and-Spins, giving them the finger on my behalf.