Hey everyone, this week we have a guest blogger and super rad Porta-Gang member Shivani Goberdhan. A few months ago Shivani showed me through her eyes the damage that plastic waste causes to the beaches and wildlife of Hawaii. Plastic is pervasive in our environment and has a serious long term impact. To be honest, I think like many of us I know that, but seeing the real impact motivated me to make some changes. I looked at our own business, both what we send to customers and what we throw away, and realized that we could and must make a difference. I committed Porta-Hang to minimize both plastic waste and plastic shipping materials. The cost is higher to wrap products in paper instead of plastic and to change the polyester carry back to cotton, but I believe we are leaving the world a better place.
Please enjoy Shivani's post, I think that you will find it very motivating.
In magazines and cinematic movie scenes, Hawai’i is a fantasy with its turquoise water that often looks like mirrored crystals. Its lush, prehistoric fauna, blanketing mountains, and vibrant seashells found on the shore. As a canoe paddler and freediver, I have developed an intimate relationship with the ocean. My coaches, elders, taught me to speak with her before entering, nurturing pause and mindfulness. Riding bumps on the ocean’s surface, my intent is on its form, the way the wind shapes each peak, sometimes curling over and crumbling into white froth. The feeling is like no other, and in a place like this, such a magical experience is only heightened as it is sprinkled with added views of the mountains, giant rainbows, breaching whales and playful dolphins. It is this peace and energy that I live for.
This beautiful imagery, sadly, is not the whole picture. Each and every time I step foot on sand, I find my eyes distracted by bits of plastic in the form of bags, wrappers, containers, bottle caps, fishing gear, utensils, bottles, and the list goes on. Venturing into the water, it is impossible to go for a swim or a dive and not find some form of garbage floating, sinking or already embedded into the reef below. Plastic is a very functional material which is used for a large variety of purposes as it is durable, flexible and moldable, and thus highly attractive to manufacturers. What is unfortunate, is that this versatile material does not ‘go away’ once disposed of. Instead of biodegrading like natural or organic materials, it simply breaks down into smaller pieces, turning into ‘microplastics’ and further into ‘nanoplastics’, usually chewed on or fully ingested along the way.
The truth is that every piece of plastic ever produced, is still on earth today. It is found on tropical coastlines, it is found on the deep seafloor, and it is found in the Arctic. It is well settled into our food chain, as the tiniest bits are ingested by the tiniest of marine life, in the stomachs of whales, and seabirds. It was even found that we humans ingest a credit card-sized amount of plastic each year. So, if this seemingly overwhelming problem is everywhere, what can we do?
While leaders have a responsibility towards policy and systemic changes, we the consumers have power as well. We ask retailers and organizations to change the materials they use via our spending habits. Asking questions and doing research, we can purchase from those who are using sustainable, or natural materials (i.e.: bamboo, hemp), as well as being deliberate in their manufacturing practices (i.e.: solar powered warehouses, local sourcing).
It is exciting to see sustainable alternatives cropping up across industries and being shared amongst the younger generations on social media. As we continue the conversation, we develop local solutions. Every tiny change is our way of defending the ocean, the way she provides for us with her serene beauty and phenomenal creatures.