So a couple of months ago I read this essay Adrian Grenier wrote for the online US mag Refinery 29. I don’t think I’ve ever said ‘YASSSS’ in my head more times within 5 minutes. (I’m really not sure whether I’m doing this ironically anymore. Someone help.) I don’t remember how I came across it but I remember it saying everything I wanted to say about plastic pollution, better than I ever could have put it.
There are only a few differences between Adrian Grenier’s take on this and my own. First of all, I actually have an irrational fear of the ocean. I pretty much pass out when seaweed touches me, and I haven’t been able to go in past my stomach since I got dunked at Bronte beach in February. I don’t like fish, the idea of a seaborne animal big enough to swallow me whole is not one that I like to entertain on a regular basis. I still sometimes have that old recurring nightmare about the glass breaking at the Aquarium.
But even I can’t deny the importance of the ocean, the beauty of it, and the horror of the idea that we are destroying it.
I guess the only other thing is that Adrian Grenier is an A-list celebrity with 567 thousand Instagram followers and I’m a 19 year old who has a bag full of plastic bottles and a blog. Yep.
What I love about this essay is that Grenier identifies that we need to stop seeing saving our oceans as a big, global problem for our politicians to sort out. It starts and ends with the individual. For me, it has been about simply picking up any plastic that I come across when walking down the street. It’s sad how often I’m stooping over or flailing across the street to catch a plastic bag. What it does though, is start this conversation – not necessarily one with any words. Because people I walk with notice, and they start to think, and maybe one day they’ll do the same, and start the conversation with their mates. I like to think so anyway.
One thing I’ve learnt of late is that the worst thing you can do when there’s a problem is not talk about it. It’s what allows issues to fester and spiral and for no one to be held accountable. Grenier says ‘Technology has done such an efficient job at letting us hide from one another and hide from our environment’, ‘where is the trash on Instagram?’ And it’s not only the physical trash, but where is any of our ‘trash’? The stuff that sits silently on our doorstep, that we don’t want to talk about, that threatens our mental wellbeing, our relationships, our planet, our peace. The important stuff.
Social media is so curated to be ‘pretty’ that we forget its power in fixing what is ugly about our world. Grenier says ‘With your voice, you have the power to start a conversation about plastic pollution at every meal, on every date, and at every happy hour’.
So remember it starts with you. You don’t have to lecture your friends, you don’t have to write pompous lengthy blog posts about it (sorry), you don’t have to post on Instagram about all the rubbish you picked up today (sorry).
It’s just about starting a conversation and simply not closing your eyes to your impact on this world – both positive and negative.
I think it’s wonderful when people their influence to talk about important stuff – in this case, a sorely neglected human responsibility. Check out Grenier’s essay here.