MOSAIC: How big of a problem is plastic in our world?
PHILIP: Plastic is one of the big problems to our environment. It’s destroying our world. It’s filled the oceans, the fish eat plastic, and
we eat the fish. Plastic is flooding everywhere and we only recycle about 5-10% of it, globally. In the documentary Plastic China it talks about how some of our plastics are sent by container to China and then people from villages sort those plastics, flood the rivers with plastic, burn the plastics, exposed to the fumes – it’s a horror story. Their kids have cancer, entire villages are polluted, crops are not growing and the people are dying, and that’s our issue. It’s our North American lifestyle that affects them.
Plastics can be highly recyclable, if you can sort it right. At Red Propeller, we dismantle our plastics on site and send it to manufacturers so that they can create new material. We have started a second project, recycling child safety car seats. We are the only one in Canada with an environment license that is doing this right now. 1.3 million kids live in Ontario, and they will use one to three different car seats in their lifetime. A conservative estimate is that we throw away a quarter of a million car seats each year in Ontario. They end up in the landfill – that translates to filling the Rogers Centre 7 1⁄2 times every year. This is just in Ontario…and think about bicycle helmets and other plastic things we use and throw in the garbage.
MOSAIC: What is one practical step that you can suggest to someone, to become involved in creation care?
PHILIP: Well, understanding is actually very important. There is lots of information out there, but we just don’t care enough to listen to it. I think what we should expect is a change of lifestyle. It’s the way we live, that we purchase, and the way that we deal with our excessive materials – sometimes we over buy and just throw them away, don’t even bother to find a way, just convenience. There are people actually mad at us for charging them for recycling. They say, ‘What can you do to stop me from putting that in the landfill?’
‘Nothing,’ I say, ‘because it’s not based on what I need, it’s based on what you feel is right.’ So lifestyle change is by knowledge…
and recognizing that God cares about poverty, cares about our community, cares about all of his creation…this is our responsibility, to be the steward, because our stewardship of the environment came all the way before the fall. It’s right in the beginning, when Adam got the first job, to name and take care of creation. That’s our very first job; we’ve forgotten about that. We need to go back to that, to look at what we are destroying, what we need to do, how we can do it. We’re not going to solve everything, but if everybody can just change a little bit in our lifestyle, change a little bit in the way we do things, I think the world will be in a better place.
We have to believe in the collective power. It’s not one person that tries to save the world, it’s many people doing one step. That‘s a billion steps and if we do two steps, that’s a billion times two. I think that’s the idea we need to work on.