Buying the lie

Often, I think that what we think we know is just a version of the truth, one that doesn’t bear up to closer scrutiny. We are told enough to pacify us, to ensure that we carry on. Enough that we can reassure ourselves that it’s all ok.

Take the great plastic war/controversy of current times. Plastic did not ‘suddenly’ become non-biodegradable, there was clearly a tipping point (pun intended) when the knowledge transferred from the woe of eco-warriors to a concern for us all. 

In this case, it was undoubtedly BBC’s Blue Planet that allowed us to be awoken. You can be assured that politicians and manufacturers knew about the problem way before this but not enough people were concerned and so they were able to be indifferent and carry on as normal.

Who knew? Those of us that diligently recycle may not have been aware that our plastics are bundled onto container ships and sent to China. All those tonnes of diesel fuel, not quite my concept of eco-friendly. We only know this fact now because China no longer wants our plastic

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

In these instances, the lie that we bought was a simple act of spin: ‘recyclable where facilities exist’.  Those who like an occasional take-away coffee (of whom there are many) can presumably be excused for not knowing that there are only two places in the UK that have the facility to separate the paper and plastic in these cups and recycle it. Consequently, it is usually not recycled. Indeed only 30% of the UK’s plastic is recycled, where facilities exist. Who knew that this meant China?

The way that the news agenda works currently is that we all have our two to three days of outrage and outbursts and petition filling before something else comes along. In that space we often have conciliatory remarks from someone in a position of power and a clever retailer jumping into the fray to get credit (Iceland in this instance). More often than not Government will make a promise with an ultra-long fulfilment date that is long after they’ve departed office and far longer than our collective memory spans. 

Photo by Javier Molina on Unsplash
Another common occurrence is an attempt to shift the outrage. Instead of having us riled that the coffee shop conglomerates are not doing enough to solve this cup recycling issue we get the threat of taxation, a surcharge to our take-away habit, and we’re vexed about the concept of paying more for our dose. These organisations employ good PR for very good reasons, it deflects the blame. 

We’re all too time-poor and too fiscally poor to give our full attention to all the outrages perpetrated against us, there are too many problems in the world. What we seem to lack in our leaders (business & government) is a surfeit of big ideas, foresight and planning. What we have instead is fire-fighting and mollification. 

Frankly it’s piss-poor and we should expect better. Sadly, we’re all too easily diverted. Where are the fluffy kittens, the amusing pranks and heart-warming nostalgia? Taking the diversion and buying the lies allows us to excuse ourselves the bigger worries. Unfortunately, if we think someone else has it covered we’re deluding ourselves. We should expect more but unless we do more we’re not likely to get it.