I just returned from a trip to Washington DC, where I had the privilege to share the Midway story at the Smithsonian Age of Plastic symposium. The presentations by world leading experts on plastics were eye opening. But no matter what we hear about all the benefits, in the medial industry, automobile industry and so on, we can’t lose sight of the fact that the oceans are filling up with this crap, killing wildlife and slowly poisoning our entire eco system and poisoning our selves. But, as our film so vividly illustrates, it’s the ‘single use disposable plastic‘ that’s the biggest culprit and what we all need to focus on. We can do away without this material, all we need to do is wake up, become aware and simply make better choices with the produces we use, each and every day.
So that brings me to the flight home… I was so thrilled to see Alaska Airlines new initiative to ‘recycle’ all their plastic that is used on the plane. Their fancy writeup in the brochure gave me a sense of joy, that finally, even the airline industry, is coming to their senses, and starting to do something about the absolute insane amount of trash they generate each day.
The blurb in their brochure clearly states that they want us to ‘join them in their efforts to recycle and reduce waste’. I’ve spend the last three years diligently researching the reality of what happens to the recycling of plastic. The fact is that for the most part, it doesn’t exist! A plastic water bottle or cup will never be turned back into the same item again. It gets DOWNCYCLED into other items, such as carpeting, materials for synthetic clothes and park benches… all that will one day end up in the landfill or our ocean anyway! So this whole ‘recycling’ thing… with the three arrows going round and round, is a joke, and is simply designed to make you and I feel better, so that we just keep consuming!
‘REDUCING’ is the only answer to this whole thing… and having the courage to REFUSE it is even more important. And Alaska Airlines gets it… I mean it’s in the tag line.. “reduce waste’. So when it came time on my flight to get my refreshments from the flight attendants, I was absolutely blown away, when I kindly asked if she can pour some water into my reusable stainless steel water bottle, that she is NOT able to. I asked why. She said they are not allowed. That she will gladly pour the water into a plastic cup and give me the cup and I can pour it into my bottle.
I almost fell out of my seat with shock when I was hearing this. So here I am, trying to do the right thing by NOT contributing to the 1 ton of trash they supposedly recycle each day and I am not allowed to do so. WHY? In all my past Alaska Airlines flights it’s never been an issue, until this one. The flight attendants were both cold and unfriendly and they were simply following the rules as idiotic and unreasonable they were! And despite my objection to the plastic cup, she ended up pouring me one anyway and setting it down. I couldn’t believe it!!
One of the most exciting things about the Midway film, and the entire campaign that is going to follow (and that’s already underway), is that people around the world are on board with this powerful story. They get it! They get that they are in charge… in control and that they can change this!! 3.8 million people have watched the trailer… people connect with it because it so ‘actionable’. They’ve mobilized… all over the planet.. making change in their towns and countries…. And it’s all these people, together, that have the power to hold companies like Alaska Airlines accountable so that they actual DO the right thing, not just write about it in their glossy brochure and their website!