Let’s be Planeteers: A Superhero Won’t Save the Planet

“Remember kids: Captain Planet may not be real, but his enemies are,” was the top comment, from user spottydodgy, on a Reddit post linking to openDemocracy’s story detailing Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s hand in the largest destruction of the Amazon Rainforest.

I don’t know how many people are familiar with the 90s cartoon “Captain Planet and the Planeteers,” but it follows a group of teens that summon Captain Planet, a teal skinned, mullet-wearing superman that saves the world from environmental catastrophes — like the large-scale destruction of the Amazon Rainforest.

“Captain Planet and the Planeteers” was your run-of-the-mill 90s infotainment show, but it instilled into a generation the need to protect our planet and its natural resources, something that people seem to outright ignore.

Now the fire in the Amazon can be seen from space, the oceans are dying and last month the New York Times reported in “Iceland Mourns Loss of a Glacier by Posting a Warning About Climate Change,” about those that came out to mourn the death of Icelandic glacier Okjokull.

Since I was little, I heard that we need to protect the rainforests, we need to stop deforestation and we need to reduce, reuse, recycle; but does anybody really pay attention to it or is it just lip service?

  I really like being able to breath, but hey I can get the newest iPhone delivered to me by Amazon— the one that’s not on fire — so I can get on Twitter and tweet about the ongoing fire without leaving my couch.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers were on the right track, but it’s time for more than just lip service to the environment.

There is a lot that you can do to help the environment here in Wichita.

Recycling is always a good place to start. It’s a no-brainer, but due to new Chinese regulations — where most recyclable had been sent previously — most plastics are not recycled anymore.

So, it’s important to know what can and can’t be recycled. On the plus side however metal like aluminum cans are easily recycled and can be brought to metal plants all over Wichita; and they will pay you by the pound for your metal.

Recycling is only one part of the equation; reuse your plastics and reduce the amount of waste you produce. Both can be done by using reusable objects like water bottles, metal or bamboo straws or canvas bags. There are plenty of alternative options that people can opt for instead of single use plastics.

Then there’s vehicle emissions. This one isn’t nearly as fun or easy to do, but when given the option to walk, bike, or use the new electric scooters that are littering the sidewalks take it. It’s not easy to just stop driving, especially in places with poor public transit, but if you can reduce the operation of your vehicle then the world will thank you.

Finally, the easiest thing you could possibly do for the environment: vote.

With election season soon upon us it’s important to keep in mind environmental issues when voting for your candidate of choice.

Let’s put people that want to repair the damage done to our environment in office, especially now that the Sedgwick County Commissioner is moving to put restrictions on alternative energy sources in the county.

Recycling, cutting carbon emissions and voting are only the basics, but there is so much more you can do. Get involved with community cleanups, donate — if you can — to environmental organizations, or just try to make your voice heard.

Just because the news cycle has turned over doesn’t mean the damage to the planet has stopped. Captain Planet can’t save the planet with just a mullet and super-environmentalism, he needs the help of the Planeteers — us — to keep the world from becoming something from a bad 90s cartoon.