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Sr Mary-Ann Casanova rsj is the Project Officer for the Josephite Explore~Embrace~Embody Laudato Si’ Action Plan. She presents the next stage of the plan with its focus on Soft Plastics: raising awareness and inspiring action to reduce the use of soft plastics and advocating for better recycling at individual, local, state and national levels.

The Soft Plastics campaign is a shared Josephite endeavour and is being promoted through a series of eight topics every month – this month we focus on A for ASKING FOR CHANGE!

Everything is connected.  Everyone is connected.  The whole of creation is connected.

Taking ACTION and ASKING FOR CHANGE in order to shine a light upon social issues is something many of us strive to do. All of us concerned for the environment were devastated when we discovered that millions of plastic bags being saved for recycling were destined for landfill. In addition, to be told that despite plastics recycling programs being common for many years, production of single-use plastics continues to surge raised huge questions for which there seem to be few answers.

As citizens of one of the richest democracies in the world, we are constrained to ensure politicians and large corporations are being held accountable for their actions, especially when these actions continue to threaten the flourishing of our planet.

ADVOCATING and ASKING FOR CHANGE enables individuals to foster a sense of community and solidarity. By advocating for the elimination of soft plastics, we give hope to ourselves and others.

The good news

Consciousness of the dangers of plastics waste has increased exponentially among people across globe.

Australians want to do the right thing to deal with plastics pollution

There has been some action to hold companies responsible. In NSW, the Environment Protection Authority has told Woolworths and Coles to clear the REDcycle warehouses.

The bad news

In landfill, paper takes between two and six weeks to decompose and an orange peel six months.

Plastics are estimated to last hundreds, even thousands of years.

Since the 1950s, we have produced more than 8 billion tonnes of plastic, more than one tonne of plastic for every person alive today.

Almost every piece of plastic ever made is still with us. It lines the stomachs of turtles and whales and fish, it slips into our food, it is in the air we breathe. Scientists estimate each of us ingests the equivalent of one credit card’s worth of plastic – every week. Yet while companies (and consumers) come under increasing pressure to use plastic less, more plastic plants are opening around the world.

What is the challenge to us as we set out to ASK FOR CHANGE?

Why has the big clean up been left to consumers? What can be done to stop plastic choking our oceans and wilderness? The scary thing is, that instead of financing solutions back in the ’70s (or changing product designs), the plastics industry put its money into public recycling campaigns and shifted the burden on to the consumer, on to us.

These companies will get away with a slap on the wrist. Meanwhile, oil companies continue to pump plastics into the environment, government’s greenwash and climate protestors are threatened with prison.

To continue reading about Contemplative Action and Community Action please click here