What about the water? Is the focus of the environmental movement on plastic taking focus away from other big issues?

Well… High School Musical (bear with me) is a source of inspiration to many. Troy Bolton lives a struggle we can all relate to: being an attractive, straight white man with too many talents… We’ve all been there! Troy’s harrowing journey to self-acceptance captured many of our hearts in 2006, again in 2007 (when he suffered the same adversity but this time with more opportunities- will the poor boy’s suffering ever end?) and finally in 2008, when our prayers were heard and he finally found a balance between his 2 hobbies, turning down a scholarship to one of the most prestigious drama schools in the world to hang out with his mate.

When I saw that Zac Efron, the actor who played the afflicted Troy, was the host of a new Netflix series, I strapped myself in for another emotional rollercoaster. However, I was surprised to find myself genuinely interested by the series and with a begrudging respect for the actor turned student of sustainability.

The series, called Down to Earth, follows Zac across the world, as he learns about sustainability, environmentalism and veganism from engineers, chefs, scientists and people living by these principles. It shines a light not only on some of the problems caused by climate change: flooding, extreme weather, destruction of wildlife, but also on tried and tested solutions that could make a real difference across the globe. For me the series re-ignited a question I’ve been pondering for some time; does our focus on plastic distract us from other ways of protecting our planet?

Certainly, in the last few years we have seen much more awareness of environmental topics. We all now know that plastic straws can get stuck in turtles noses, as well as damage other wildlife, and we’ve seen a huge shift to environmentally friendly alternatives. But while we use a paper or metal straw at the drive through, how much carbon is coming out of our exhaust?

The turtles may be a safer, but what about the rest of the animals, including us, that breathe in the air that we are poisoning? Making a change with a straw is an incredible first step. That change shows we can make a difference for the greater good, and what an incredible feeling that is.

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Did you know that for every load of laundry washed, as many as 700,000 plastic microfibres can flow into our water systems? Across the UK, that means that 9.4 trillion fibres could be released into the environment in one week alone! 🌊😰 Synthetic fabrics such as polyester rayon and nylon are created using plastic fibres. With every wash these shed from our clothes and can end up in our ocean 🌊❌ We’re asking UK governments to bring in legislation requiring washing machine manufacturers to fit #microfibre filters in all new domestic and commercial machines by 2023, and fit all commercial machines retroactively by 2024 🌊 Click the link in our bio to sign our petition to help #StopOceanThreads or visit – www.mcsuk.org/campaigns/microfibrecampaign-home 📷: These pics were created by @louisemccurdy and @bamford_alex for @planetcare.solutions. Go check out Louise's feed to see her amazing work highlighting the issue of plastic pollution through her art 👏 #plasticpollution #microfibers #microfibre #microfibres #microplastics #ocean #pollution #marinepollution #oceanplastic #marineplastic #marineconservation

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We know we can do better, and we have proven over and over again our incredible ability to adapt for a common goal, not least in the current situation of coronavirus.

So, is the focus on plastic distracting us from other huge environmental issues, like water and air pollution? The truth is that these are all urgent problems that need urgent attention. Rather than decreasing the conversation about plastic, we need to be amplifying other issues. After all, we are running out of time.

But what can we do? To start with we need to yell from the rooftops that this isn’t over. We need to keep looking for solutions, both small and big, and stop waiting for governments who refuse to take more than token measures. We need to use our votes to make real change to the management of our economies, fuel industries and infrastructure.

And we need to keep proving that we can make a change when all of us come together to make a difference.

By Kahina Bouhassane

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Woman in flower crown smiling. Photo by Autumn Goodman.