While I enjoyed my South American travels, two questions have stuck with me.  One has to do with population, and the other plastic bags. Let me explain…

First, on population. Now I know conceptually we have hit 7 billion and I live in a big city so on a regular daily basis I am exposed to the reality that there are a lot of people on the planet.  But being on the international road the population reality hit me harder. There are A LOT of people on the planet and I see the need for population stabilization efforts more than ever before.

Reading conservationist Dave  Foreman’s Man Swarm helped smack me in the face that stabilization has to occur.

Fact: “Man’s population grew more in the last 40 years than the previous 3 million.”

Another: Not only does overpopulation harm ultimately harm humans, but is the “main driver of extinction of sundry kinds of wildlife, the wrecking and taming of wildlands and wildwaters.”

I have this question: How many people can “sustainably use, exploit, degrade, or destroy the biosphere without risking collapse for human beings, human civilization,” and wildlife, lands and waters?

Different experts have different answers, but one thing for sure, if the population continues to grow exponentially, we’re going to get there even faster (if we aren’t there already).  Fewer people need come into the world.  Being childfree does need to be promoted as a powerful way to contribute to stabilization.

Another thing that smacked me on the road–the world is needs to get off plastic bags. When at home, I don’t use plastic grocery bags, keep use of produce bags to a minimum, reuse and reuse them until it is time to recycle them, and then I do that.

But in shopping for food in Rio and Buenos Aires, all they have are plastic bags.  Your produce has to go into plastic bags to weigh the items, those plastic bags go into larger plastic bags at check out, where they put only a few items in each bag, so you end up leaving with lots of semi full plastic bags containing more plastic bags!

The mound of bags collected by the end of our time in each place was ridiculous. I felt like I should spend some time in plastic purgatory! And do they recycle them at all? Ugh–not. Even in the U.S. only about 1 to 2% get recycled. The rest sit in a landfill–forever…

Ok enough rant on people and plastic explosion…

This international trip was unlike others I have made. I have come home motivated to join those who are taking action toward global population stabilization, and the destructive effects of disposable plastic bags.

Travel can do wonderful things for the mind, body and soul.  And it can also inspire action to help the big problems we see on the road.

What kinds of things have you been exposed to on the road that really stuck with you? Moved you to some kind of action?

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