I am not sure when your durable presence seeped into our lives.
We humans are a queer lot. Back in those times when you were still stunning the world with your rare and versatile presence, we managed life and living with a little of everything that was available to us. We were happy breathing new life into our discarded clothes, turning them into colourful cloth bags that accompanied us to shops and markets.
While vegetables needed just this bag and no plastic jacket to hold them, dry food, like lentils, were wrapped into recycled newspapers that were skilfully twisted into paper cones and perfectly secured with thin jute ropes. Those were the times when the precious milk bottle with the day’s-worth of milk was washed and kept aside to be used the following day.
It is indeed strange that when we had little, we used them wisely and valued their presence greatly for every newspaper was effectively recycled, while the bottles and old clothes found a place beside the old newspapers only when they could be used no more.
Those were times when we humans were wrapped in awe of your miraculous existence for you were our ticket to convenience. You could be as tough as stone, pliant as paper and yet not heavy or fragile. You could be rendered unbreakable and even more amazing was that whether you were thin as a sheet or thick as brick, you prevented dripping, leaking and was waterproof.
You were born from fossil fuel, but you could be compressed, melted, polymerised, refined, distilled, molded, polished or granulated. You could be shaped into anything — everything that we humans ever imagined. With you by our side, our curious, innovative and creative mind saw possibilities that were limitless.
Over the years, slowly and surely, you took over every aspect of our life. In hospitals, you were a saviour; in homes, you were a convenience; in our progressing world, your presence gave freedom to create and wings to desires and innumerable creative ventures. From a baby’s rattle to the brilliant mind’s supercomputer, you dominated our world.
We humans are a queer lot for we are gifted with brilliance but cursed with the lack of foresightedness. When you showed yourself in abundance, you were a miracle no more — just another water bottle that could be easily discarded, a bag of plastic that only found a single use, a plastic straw that was convenient for one use, you were cutlery that was disposable — you filled the landfill.
You were created by the human mind to help, and mistreated by these very humans, ruining the blueprint that your inventors had in mind — you turned evil. You littered the pristine oceans and suffocated the water world, you lay buried in the soil and leached your way into our food, but we ignorant humans continued to create more.
Some picked up a few ditched bottles and turned them into dresses that graced a fashion show, some others paved them to make roads and bricks and still, the plastic mountain grew.
It took us awhile to accept that none of this was your fault for drowning in our toxic plastic fantasy, we took you for granted with our spoiled ‘disposable’ lifestyle.
As an apology to you and our home, Earth, we will begin minimising your use starting from the month of July. With single-use bags disappearing from supermarkets, we will learn to go back to basics and pick up reusable ones.
We are ready with our reusable water bottles and hope to do away with single-use plastic bottle with the Dubai Can initiative and progress from there for it has finally dawned on us that you will be the lucky one to outlive all of us humans and the last one standing strong on this warming planet.
A Grateful Human
Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha