This week a documentary which is a good follow-up on the subject from last week. This documentary is not about the melting of the ice caps, but it is about one of the biggest contributors to this problem. This 2DOC documentary is about the thing that causes the biggest negative impact on a personal level: the consumption of stuff. It all seems normal theses days, buying stuff from the other side of the world. This documentary shows one side of the negative impact of consumerism. Seablind: the price of shipping our stuff.
The New Normal
Most people do it and it seems the be a very normal things these days: buying cheap stuff that is shipped from the other side of the world to us. AliExpress or Alibaba for example. There are a million problems that come with this subject, but this documentary tackles the shipping of stuff. These negative effects do not only happen when you buy cheap stuff, but basically with all the stuff you buy. Online, in a store. Most products come from China, most clothing from Bangladesh, etc. It’s highly exceptional if you manage to buy a product (that isn’t food) which is made in The Netherlands.
The documentary Seablind shows us the negative impact of the shipping of all this stuff we buy, especially by boat. The documentary is called Seablind because most stuff comes to us by boat, about 90% of all the stuff we buy. Well, boat. Massive ships is a better term. This phenomena is only getting worse. That’s because ice caps are melting because of climate change. This then opens up new shipping routes, which emit again more and then more ice caps melt. It’s a vicious cycle. More stuff, more pollution.
The Negative Impact
It’s always the case that when a product is very cheap, the true costs lie with someone or something else. In this case the shipment of stuff is very cheap because ships use the cheapest fuel that’s available: bunker oil. It’s very polluting but then again: all fossil fuels are. A big freighter uses 380 tons of fuel a day! And it’s not just about the fossil fuels, there are other gases which are emitted. The 17 largest freighters in the world emit the same amount of sulphur as all the cars in the world. In the case of these freighters: especially the soot is dangerous. Because soot is emitted it lands on the ice caps. If ice turns black because of the soot there is a positive feedback effect. Black surfaces take up more heat, less sunlight is reflected back (like would happen on ice) and the earth warms even faster. Soot is also responsible for 17% of the greenhouse effect and causes 50.000 premature death’s in Europe alone, each year! And besides the air pollution there is also great pollution at sea and land. Freighters lose containers all the time in big storms.
‘The 17 largest freighters around the world emit just as much sulphur as all the cars around the globe’Seablind
We need individual change and system change. How to change on an individual level? That’s why I write blogposts. This whole site is written around that subject. Everything you do is good, but start with the big things! When it comes to stuff: I wrote this blogpost about how to buy sustainable in 6 steps. But minimalism is key too. We own so much stuff! We can do with so much less. And if you have to buy something, like really, really need it and need it new. Then at least support your local economy. That way it doesn’t have to travel so far and you support your locals! Of course we also need system change, like clean transportation.
The documentary Seablind can be seen via this link.