When Jack Johnson is not spreading love and joy around the world with his music, he is most likely giving back to the world through his Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation or back to his home community of Hawaii via the Kokua Hawaii Foundation. Jack, a lover of the oceans and nature, along with his Wife Kim Johnson and their foundations, have helped untold millions of people live better lives through their music education, art education and environmental education programs.
With a continual and sustained focus on our future, of course they envision and are leading the way to a world with significantly less single-use plastics. Jack recently joined a 5 Gyres Institute expedition to the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre with a number of scientists, ocean athletes, and ocean advocates to study the impact that plastic is having on our oceans. Perhaps you have heard of the five oceanic gyres? These are areas in the ocean where plastics have washed out to sea and accumulate due to converging currents. Some people have called these places garbage patches, or have described each as an island of trash. Unfortunately, there are no islands of trash, it’s worse! It’s “plastic smog”. It is everywhere and is mostly small fragments of plastic that is impossible to clean up without killing the numerous tiny sea creatures that make up the base of the oceanic food chain. This is our new reality, plastic smog polluting our oceans.
Many of you know that cleaning the plastic out of the ocean with giant machines is as futile as attempts in the 1970’s to clean up air pollution with giant air scrubbing machines. The realistic and simple solution to air pollution was to focus on the source of the smog. The U.S. Clean Air Act created a series of changes that dealt with the sources of the air pollution. The result was a significant reduction in air pollution despite a tremendous increase in our population and economy.
The solution to Plastic Smog in the Oceans is also source reduction. Our storm drains are the smoke stacks delivering plastics into the ocean in the form of bottles, bags, cigarette butts, and straws. Perhaps you have heard of Mircobeads? If not, watch this 2 minute video.
Of course, plastic industry groups like to promote stories about cleaning up the ocean, or that recycling is the answer because these stories are the convenient lies that give us permission to continue with our single-use throw-away society instead of making the necessary changes needed in order to address the real problem. The real problem is that plastic is difficult to recycle for numerous reasons and as such, a very small percentage of plastics actually get turned into new products. The real problem is that plastic pollution impacts us all. From bottom feeders on the ocean floor, all the way up the food chain to us humans, we are all impacted. There is no difference between an environmental health problem and a human health problem. If it isn’t clear, just look closer – it’s all connected.
Wise souls like Jack Johnson know this. Jack, through his music and good work helps us to understand that love is fuel that will heal this world. On the other hand, there is the Bag Monster, the poster-child of necessary waste, a creature so unconscious of his consumption its painful, so un-grounded, he could take flight. Bag Monster’s plastic bag industry talking points and circular arguments in defense of single-use plastics flew flat and then blew away.