better world

Plastic Pollution: Where do we Stand?

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It’s 2019 and at this point, we all know that much of the human impact on our fragile planet comes from pollution. Our landfills are overflowing, and we haven’t successfully dealt with carbon emissions, toxic runoff from farm and lawn fertilizers, pesticides, manufacturing byproducts, mining waste, or the pollutants created by energy generation and transportation.

We’re introducing unwanted material to the biosphere at an ever-growing rate and we haven’t yet found the brake pedal, much less put it to use. One of the most depressing topics under this subheading can be summed up in a word: plastic.

The issue of environmental plastic is depressing, and in many ways paralyzing, for a simple reason. Each of us personally contributes to the problem every single day, and none of us know how to stop.

One Problem at a Time

Here at Just Atonement, we recognize that the problems are of the world are vast. So vast that in some cases, the metrics and charts that detail a given crisis contain numbers incomprehensible to the human mind. How many is a billion? How about 200 billion? How many children go hungry each night in conflict zones? How many people die of cholera each year due to a lack of clean water? How many grains of wheat are required to sustain a population of millions? How many years, months and days must pass before a nation is held accountable for a war crime? These numbers are available, but for most of us, they still somehow lie just out of reach. We can see the charts with our eyes, but we still can’t fully comprehend what they mean.

So it goes with plastic and the planet. A single coffee lid or plastic straw will lie on the sand for thousands of years. It will never disappear, generation after generation, lifetime after lifetime. One busy moment at a coffee shop, a single forgotten morning on the way to work, will leave this legacy for millennia. The giant garbage gyres made of such straws and lids are so vast that a two-day drive across a state like Texas still can’t cover their width. Our minds can’t typically process this, and since we need to get to work, the straw goes into the trash, the moment is forgotten and the day goes on. Since we don’t know how to prevent, slow, or comprehend the numerical extremes that lie within this series of events, we don’t want to try.

That’s normal.

But if we don’t, nobody else will.

So What, Then?

There is a way around this obstacle. The path is rocky and steep and the outcome is—so far—not guaranteed, but the road has two lanes: personal changes and policy changes. We can work hard to apply cultural pressures that convince our fellow consumers and ourselves to reject single-use plastic even when it’s available and convenient. And we can advocate and vote for policies that will remove plastic options from our lives, making them less available and thereby making individual smart choices easier.

But to get to either one, we need something that many of us struggle with: courage. That’s where organizations like Just Atonement can help. To move forward with either path, we need to overcome the paralysis and hopelessness that make us scroll past articles like this one  and this one. We need to trust ourselves, have faith, believe that our actions will create real change and then….take those actions.

Contemplating a sea turtle choking on our coffee shop straw is NOT pleasant. But contemplate it we must, before we use the straw and—most important-- before we refuse to think about it. Easy? No. But possible? We work every day to keep our eyes fixed on a distant future where sustainability is real, peace is attainable, and humans can live without fear, injustice, or a lack of access to resources, and we believe it IS possible.

If you’re looking for ways to gather your courage and help us find a path to that future, please contact our team today!

What Sets Us Apart

Despite a pervading sense of global instability and concern for an uncertain future, we’re confident that a better world is possible. Here are Just Atonement, we don’t just believe in the rule of law; we believe that evolving and flexible changes in global legal systems can carry us beyond this moment of instability and into a green and sustainable future that’s safer and more conducive to social stability than anything we’ve seen before. If we can navigate the stormy currents that lie ahead, we’ll emerge on the other side with statutes that protect equal access to justice and safeguard threatened elements of our social fabric, including our food systems, disaster recovery initiatives, and building codes that prepare coastal municipalities for rising sea levels.

No single organization can predict the exact challenges that lie in store for us, but many non-profits, foundations, and legal groups are now taking shape, and many of these groups share a common goal: proactively standing up for communities that will bear a disproportionate share of the burden arising from looming environmental and political shifts. Corporations and wealthy individuals typically have recourse to protections that more vulnerable populations cannot access, and when global unrest and natural disasters run their course, these vulnerable populations tend to feel the strongest effects. Like many similar organizations that are coalescing during this challenging era, Just Atonement works to extend available protections to all citizens who lack adequate shelter from the winds of change.

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But what makes JA different? How do we stand out from other organizations with similar broad goals? Here are a few details that differentiate our strategies and methods.

1.       We are apolitical.

We embrace no political ideology other than a belief in equal and universal access to safety, stability, and justice, in order to build peace and promote environmental sustainability. We are not affiliated in any way with any established political party, and our financial resources, influence, and legal guidance are vigilantly non-partisan.

2.       We believe in the global rule of law.

State and federal statues in the US can be applied to the protection of individuals affected by instability and environmental degradation, but without the global rule of law, the protections we work for end at our borders. Our interest lies in codifying and finding ways to enforce laws that transcend national boundaries; sensible and enforceable statutes can clarify as-yet murky legal areas related to criminal law, war crimes, drug and human trafficking, and issues related to global climate change.

3.       We believe in dialogue instead of war.

We believe that the limits of diplomacy must be pressed to the breaking point before war becomes the only option. In the world we envision, war is never the only option. Acts of war typically target vulnerable populations first, and these populations bear its most devastating effects for decades and generations to come. We believe in reliance on diplomacy and dialogue to prevent these actions before they take place.

4.       We believe in preparation for climate change.

Evidence suggests that as global temperatures approach an increase of approximately two degrees, the impact of climate change will become an unavoidable reality. While all available efforts should be made to prevent this point of no return, we must also prepare for the realities of this transition. Our team at Just Atonement will soon have the organizational infrastructure, legal expertise, and financial stability to stand up for those who are most likely to feel its effects.