I think we have reached a major tipping point, from a personal/regional perspective at least.
I have worked in the food service industry my whole life, and aside from inevitable food waste (which is unavoidable due to the perishable nature of food itself) there is an incredible amount of plastic and paper waste that goes into food production. From the millions of feet of plastic and foil wrap, to the disposable plastic bags and storage containers, to the plastic cups, plates, spoons, forks, sporks, knives, drinking straws, and a myriad of different types of commercial packaging, optimal food safety and service is achieved through monumental toxic waste.
This is apparent even upon casual observation, but after I began a path to truth and betterment, I started to have a moral dilemma with my lifelong profession. Every time I run a length of plastic film at work I now see it in my mind floating in the ocean in a giant raft of other trash. It hurts. I can't unsee what I have seen, but taking on such a seemingly huge responsibility feels like an insurmountable task.
However, if you are hip to this you know the industry has been developing compostable plant based alternatives for several years. All of the aforementioned products are now able to be derived from plant sources--that means total renewability. Recycled materials have also been around for a long time which alleviates the problem to a small degree, but they are not a real lasting solution. 100% recycled paper products are not wholly applicable and thus are currently limited to certain applications, and of course recycled plastic is still plastic. Not to mention making the masses responsible for sorting trash is, in a word, impractical.
Up until now the reason we haven't seen widespread use of compostable disposables is the cost. When these products first hit the market they were not cost effective for most businesses. In order to get the average businessperson to open up to this it has to be practical for their budget. The bottom line isn't always everything, but for many it is damn close. Kudos to those who could afford it initially or followed their principles regardless, but that's just not feasible for everybody.
But the times, they are a changin'! The catering company I currently work for has sensibility, decency and compassion as part of our model, but being a small local company we had to wait until the price was right. Last season we finally got fully on board. We now use plant based compostable cups, plates, and flatware. And here's the real kicker, the reason for the tip—IT'S CHEAPER THAN PLASTIC! Our coffee cups are 100% recycled paper, our clear drinking cups are made of rice, our flatware is made of potatoes, and our plates are made from fallen palm leaves (they are not harvested from the tree but collected after they fall--totally sustainable). I'm not saying that changing the world has to be affordable, but it sure as hell helps. This is yuge!
I am proud to tell people about how awesome my employers are for doing this and how easy it was to make this simple change. With this new-ish technology those images of floating trash islands in the ocean may soon be a thing of the past. It's not going to happen today or tomorrow, but I believe this is the beginning of the end of it. Plastic became a world standard, plant base could just as easily replace it.
Thank goodness for the relative freedom in American markets to innovate and compete with compassion. I'm all for free markets and voluntary exchanges, but there has got to be a careful measure compassion and consideration for future generations factored in. Without it we will hand-over-fist our way into oblivion. The only static in this world is change. Sometimes it happens over night. Most of the time it doesn't, but here we are. Depending on your perspective the future can look bright or dark... Let's shine the light, let's be the change!
My name is Johnny and in 2007 I had a full stop paradigm shift. I have been on a path to seek truth and the betterment of the world through the betterment of the self. I have worked with an outstanding activist group called We Are Change Colorado @wearechange-co for almost ten years. My path has led me currently to the ideas of voluntaryism, anarchy, natural law, intelligent design, and many different forms of philosophy, religion, and spirituality.
I hope to provide value to the world by articulating the ideas that resonate with me. The more I learn and understand, the more I know I don't know, so any and all constructive criticisms, suggestions, and disagreements are welcome. Please comment and engage me so that I can continue to improve my views and ideas.