our world is choking on plastic (demand corporations do their part to end it)

Es­ti­mated reading time is 4 min­utes.

AN ARTICLE TITLEDMore plastic than fish in the sea by 2050″ draws at­ten­tion to a new Ellen MacArthur Foun­da­tion re­port on plas­tics and the oceans of our world. Green­peace con­structed their consciousness-raising quote for their cur­rent “De­mand big cor­po­ra­tions do their part to end plastic pol­lu­tion” pe­ti­tion (in bold grey print below) from this report.

Facts in the MacArthur re­port re­garding the mas­sive pro­duc­tion of plas­tics today and their dev­as­tating ef­fects on our en­vi­ron­ment include:

Plas­tics pro­duc­tion has in­creased twen­ty­fold since 1964.

Plas­tics pro­duc­tion is ex­pected to double again in the next 20 years, and will con­sume 20% of all oil pro­duc­tion within 35 years, up from an es­ti­mated 5% today.

40% of plas­tics end up in land­fill and a third in fragile ecosys­tems such as the world’s oceans.

30% of plas­tics end up in the world’s oceans.

Just 5% of plas­tics are re­cy­cled effectively.

Sci­en­tists es­ti­mate that by 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish! Click To Tweet

The MacArthur re­port con­cludes that “at least 8,000,000 tonnes of plas­tics leak into the ocean, which is equiv­a­lent to dumping the con­tents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. 

If no ac­tion is taken, this is ex­pected to in­crease to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050. The ocean is ex­pected to con­tain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plas­tics than fish [by weight].”

Choking: German picture sleeve for the Kinks' single PLASTIC MAN from 1969.

While nei­ther the UK nor the US saw fit to issue Plastic Man with a pic­ture sleeve, Pye Records did issue sleeves in other coun­tries. This one is from Ger­many and is prob­ably the most graph­i­cally in­ter­esting. The photo is from the cover photo ses­sions for the WE ARE THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY album of early 1969, an album doomed to failure based on the title alone.

Choking on plastic people

I thought I’d take this chance to present a recording by the Kinks from 1969 that few people in the world paid at­ten­tion to back then, ex­cept for their diehard fans. It re­ally has little to do with the issue of plas­tics pol­lu­tion, but of course it does ad­dress the use of plas­tics by human be­ings, without which the pol­lu­tion issue wouldn’t be an issue.

The equiv­a­lent of one garbage truck of plastic en­ters into our seas every minute, every day, all year long. Sci­en­tists es­ti­mate that by the year 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish!

Recorded in the first week of March 1969, it was re­leased during the final days of that month, backed with King Kong. The single failed to ig­nite the pop charts in the UK, where it was ru­mored that the BBC re­fused to play the song due to the word ‘bum’—which the BBC denied.

Plastic Man peaked at #31 in the UK, re­ceived little air­play and fewer sales in the US, but did find its way into the Top 20 hit in the Netherlands.

Nei­ther Plastic Man nor King Kong found their way on to the group’s next album, ARTHUR, where nei­ther re­ally belonged.

While not one of their greatest achieve­ments, Plastic Man was an in­ter­esting single and de­served more ex­po­sure in 1969.

As we diehard fans never tire of saying, “God save the Kinks!”

The Kinks - Plastic Man [Beat Club 1969]

A man lives at the corner of the street,
and his neigh­bors think he’s helpful and he’s sweet
be­cause he never swears and he al­ways shakes you by the hand.
But no one knows he re­ally is a plastic man.

He’s got plastic heart, plastic teeth and toes.
He’s got plastic knees and a per­fect plastic nose.
He’s got plastic lips that hide his plastic teeth and gums,
and plastic legs that reach up to his plastic bum.

Plastic Man got no brain.
Plastic Man don’t feel no pain.
Plastic people look the same.
Kick his shin or tread on his face,
pull his nose all over the place—
you can’t dis­figure or dis­grace Plastic Man.

He’s got plastic flowers growing up the walls.
He eats plastic food with a plastic knife and fork.
He likes plastic cups and saucers ’cause they never break,
And he likes to lick his gravy off a plastic plate.

Plastic Man got no brain.
Plastic Man don’t feel no pain.
Plastic people look the same.
Kick his shin or tread on his face,
pull his nose all over the place—
you can’t dis­figure or dis­grace Plastic Man.

He’s got a plastic wife who wears a plastic mac
And his chil­dren wanna be plastic like their dad
He’s got a phony smile that makes you think he understands
But no one ever gets the truth from plastic man.

Choking: front cover for THE GREAT LOST KINKS ALBUM from 1973.

In 1972, Plastic Man was in­ex­plic­ably left off THE KINK KRONIKLES, a fabgear com­pi­la­tion from 1972 that high­lighted the group as both Top 40 hit-makers and bril­liant rock artists. Oddly, King Kong was in­cluded. In 1973, Plastic Man was in­cluded on the US-only album THE GREAT LOST KINKS ALBUM.

Choking: photo of a decaying seabird whose gut is filled with plastic debris it swallowed during its life.

FEATURED IMAGE: As much as I would like to claim that the photo at the top of this page is an as­sem­blage by an en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious artist, it is not: it is ex­actly what it looks like. (Photo taken by and copy­righted by Chris Jordan.)


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