Talking to fishermen in the touristic region of Nilaveli, I explained the danger of plastic and tried to increase their awareness about the fact that fish eat plastic particulates covered with toxins. They fully understood the issue and were all ready to clean the beach as often as necessary, asking me if I could collect that plastic to have it recycled.


Thinking in terms of recycling plastic, however, is not the way to go as it justifies and trivializes the consumption of plastic. I invited them to drastically reduce their consumption of plastics, especially single-use plastics.


After a moment of silence, one young father nearly crying looked at me saying: “Do you mean that when my daughter asks for a bottle of soda, I should not buy it for her? . . . How is she going to look at me?”  


Our logical brain understands, but our emotional brain knows that consumerism is the easiest way to release stress. Even if it is for a few seconds, seeing one’s daughter drinking a sweet, artificially coloured and flavoured soda in a plastic bottle and looking so happy, is the best moment of the day. 

 

When I arrived in Trincomalee and discovered the state of the Centre, I was overwhelmed by the amount of cleaning that had to be done. I was alone, we were still under curfew during the night and on weekends. I bought window cleaners and floor cleaners not realizing that I was falling into the trap of increasing the consumption of plastic. After a few weeks, I found someone to help me with the cleaning, and he also went shopping and bought similar items as the one I had bought. The Centre was clean and shiny but at the price of plastic pollution. I did not throw away the containers and started to make my own cleaning items. To my surprise my helper told me, when using the products I had made from vinegar and lemon, that it really worked and that it smelled good.

 

Changing one’s lifestyle is not an easy process, but it takes a day to begin...

 

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