Plastic Soup, Deformed Turtles, and Getting Over Ourselves

I saw the picture above yesterday and my heart sank. I found it here, and while the article was powerful in relation to what’s going on with the large plastic dumps on either side of Hawaii, the turtle is what broke me.

I’ve been trying to figure out why. Maybe because I had turtles as a kid? Maybe because they’re iconic to me for peaceful, laid-back creatures.1 Who knows, and who cares: the fact is that the turtle moved me to action.

Think about it for a second: That poor turtle has lived the majority of its life constricted by the plastic band. Its entire skeleton has had to restructure itself to keep the being alive. Also think about it as a metaphor of how we’ve altered the planet as a whole.

After being heartbroken from seeing and thinking about the turtle, another one of my frustrations and disappointments with myself came up: my omnivorism. What’s the connection?

I’m starting to become more activistic about our need to be more mindful of the environment in our everyday actions. I feel torn in being a true advocate, however, when I’m aware of the toll that eating meat has on the environment. I’m not trying to leverage facts and present an argument here – I’m just drawing loose connections and may present an argument later. (Here’s a start, though.)

So, while my first reaction was indignation and wanting to pick up the torch to raise awareness about this plastic dump and the turtles – by God, the turtles! – the part of me that hates cognitive dissonance and hypocrites rightly pointed out that it’s inconsistent to champion the preservation of the environment while my habits are part of the problem.

Here’s the deal, though: we have to start somewhere. Yes, I eat meat, and I’m working on that, for more reasons than the turtles. But it doesn’t need to stop me from spreading the word about this plastic soup in our lovely oceans. Or about the plight of the turtles, birds, fish, and other assortment of animals that are living painful lives and dying painful deaths because it was just too damned inconvenient for ships to haul their trash with them.

Of course, while the plastic soup and turtle serve as the context for this particular problem, the larger issue is how much we let our personal frustrations, disappointments, and fear of being flawed beings hold us back from spreading value throughout the world. Rather than acknowledging that we have some areas to work on while we’re helping others, we allow ourselves to bottle up, hide behind our perceived failings, and fret while other beings suffer.

We’re not perfect, and we never will be. We have to fix this plane while we’re flying it. And maybe we can save some turtles while we’re at it.


: Yes, I know about alligator snapping turtles, but let’s save them for another conversation involving shovels, good will, and golf courses.

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve come to look at it more as nature isn’t some defenseless collection of cute animals we have to save, but a collection of living beings that we have to come into harmony with.

    I find that more people are willing to accept harmonious living than being a guardian.

  2. marcus says

    “the larger issue is how much we let our personal frustrations, disappointments, and fear of being flawed beings hold us back from spreading value throughout the world. Rather than acknowledging that we have some areas to work on while we’re helping others, we allow ourselves to bottle up, hide behind our perceived failings, and fret while other beings suffer.”

    dude. you just summed up my life. amazing quote.

  3. says

    Wow, that image was heartbreaking. I became vegan almost 3 years ago now, and I don’t regret the switch at all. I sometimes slip up, or eat something that I know is not good for me or the environment (highly packaged foods?) but that’s not the majority of the time, so it’s okay.

    I like how you say we need to fix the plane while we’re flying it. I commend you for your wanting to go vegetarian. You will find your way to where you want to go in due time! :)

    Nathalie Lussier from Billionaire Womans last blog post..How To Make Your WorkWeek Work For You Not Against You

  4. Charlie says

    @litrock: That’s a great observation. I find that there are many approaches, and this particular one invoked the Guardian in me. And I think that any collective will have Guardians, as there will always be entities that threaten the stability and coherence of the collective. And these statements sound far more Orwellian than I’d prefer…

    @marcus: Thanks! So..what value are you going to begin to share more of?

    @Nathalie: Babysteps! I’ll work on vegetarianism before I consider going vegan. But yeah, I’m really starting to look at packaging, too. It’s a bad time to do it considering the wasteful seasons that we’re approaching.

    @Jannie: Not to make matters worse, but check out this turtle on YouTube. This happens far more than we care to think about.

    @Allan: True. That the power of life is struggling so much because of us does not devalue that power in any way. Imagine if we harnessed that power everyday rather than becoming comfortable!

  5. says

    Lately I’ve been seriously struggling with how to integrate my ecological concerns with my quest for personal growth. Much personal growth is built on premises that encourage ecological destruction! E.g. “unlimited” anything (potential, power, market potential, etc.) Acknowledging limits and our embeddedness in our environment is huge.

    Duffs last blog post..Deconstructing Personal Development, Part 3: State Management, Positive Thinking, and the Cultivation of Mania

  6. says

    It’s nice that there is attention being drawn to this problem, because I was unaware of how bad it was until I walked a beautiful beach in Southwestern Washington State in October. Among other things, including a lot of plastic, was a mini refrigerator!

    Anyway, soon after I ran across Chris Jordan’s project on the ravaging effects that plastic refuse is having on the albatross population at Midway Atoll.

    Go here: http://www.chrisjordan.com and click on Midway.

    Very telling.

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  1. [...] Random Feed wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI saw that picture yesterday and my heart sank. I found it here, and while the article was powerful in relation to what’s going on with the large plastic dumps on either side of Hawaii, the turtle is what broke me. I’ve been trying to figure out why. Maybe because I had turtles as a kid? Maybe because they’re iconic to me for peaceful, laid-back creatures.1 Who knows, and who cares: the fact is that the turtle moved me to action. Think about it for a second: That poor turtle has lived th [...]

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