The real cost of our consumer lifestyle will be paid for by our children. If they live long enough.

I was just watching a video of the remarkable Jamie Oliver giving a speech at TED.org.

He tells a terrifying story of how we are killing our children, and ourselves, with junk food. It seems, as a society, that we have forgotten how to cook our own meals.

In a couple of clips he really brings his message to life.

Sitting with an overweight mother, they look at a pile of the kinds of food she serves her family, and how she is shortening the lives of the people she loves most.

Then he holds up vegetables in front of a classroom of young children – and they are unable even to identify a potato.

The food industry has done a great job of addicting us to their highly processed foods. And we have happily followed along.

Why, as parents, do we buy into this? Because junk food is easy. Serving our kids junk food is more convenient for us.

But it is our children who will pay the price.

It is the same story with plastics.

Here is another excellent TED.org talk, looking at the vast volumes of plastics we throw away, much of which ends up poisoning our oceans.

We are damaging the oceans with plastics in ways which our children won’t even be able to mend.

Plastic cups, plastic cutlery, plastic storage containers, plastic bottles, plastic toys, plastic appliances – we buy them all because they are cheap and convenient.

But while we save time and money today, we defer the real cost to future generations.

We poison the air and the land.

We flood the oceans with discarded plastics, at goodness knows what price.

And we bring our children into the world carrying a heavy body burden of toxic chemicals.

We know all this, but we don’t stop.

As a generation we will be remembered for our selfishness, for being able to so thoroughly dissociate ourselves from the consequences of our actions.

For those of us who are aware of the damage we are doing to our children every day, there are two things we should do.

First, we should stop. We should stop using plastics which are dangerous to the health of our children. And we should stop buying any plastic item which will ultimately end up in the garbage, or even the recycling bin.

It’s not like there aren’t any alternatives to plastics. There are.

Second, we should tell other people what we know and fear. So they, in turn, can take steps to protect their own children.