My War on Plastic

Now this is a topic I’ve been wanting to cover for a while, as the use of plastic is a real bug-bear of mine… I hate it but yet can’t seem to avoid it no matter how hard I try!

Reducing and re-using waste materials has been the driving force behind our lifestyle and business for many years. On a personal level there is very little we don’t recycle.  Like most households, we have a kerbside collection for plastic bottles, tins/cans, paper and card; glass we take to the recycling centre along with those milk/juice cartons that are mixed material and anything else we may need to throw away.  Before anything goes in the bin/skip we first consider if it can be re-used, sold, given to charity and most importantly we only buy what we really need in the first place – one of the benefits of living in a small space is it really makes you think before you spend!  Food waste is minimal.  What we do have is either composted or given to Blade, and Dave being a chef means we know how to use everything up one way or another…

So when you take a look in our rubbish bin pretty much all you see is plastic packaging!

…and it regularly gets on my wick!

It has been brought to the forefront of my attention again by the lovely Jen Gale at ‘My Make Do and Mend Life‘ in her post about ‘Earth Day’ which takes place tomorrow.  What’s Earth Day?  Well I hadn’t heard about it either but it’s actually been going since 1970 with the mission to “diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide” and this year it’s focus is (you guessed it!) – to end plastic pollution!!

There has also been much media coverage over recent months, from the use of disposable coffee cups to talk of a plastic bottle deposit scheme and banning plastic straws.  All of which conjures up much debate and arguments for and against! …but I hope that by now everyone reading this will already appreciate that plastic waste is a problem that needs to be resolved before we all drown in the stuff.

But the solutions seem to be rather complex and change certainly won’t happen overnight.  Unfortunately, the use of plastic is so ingrained in everything we do and therefore the size of it’s production and supply chain is incomprehensible and can’t just stop.  Even seemingly positive changes to the plastics industry have a knock on effect to the environment which isn’t always quite so great.

For instance, I was really impressed a while back to discover small companies making disposable cutlery, plates, etc from a plant based material…. however the widespread use of such plastic substitutes (on the scale that we currently use disposable plastic) would lead to further deforestation and therefore increased greenhouse gases….when you start looking into the issues in detail it really does make you want to run to the hills and live in a cave!

For those of us who care so deeply about our planet and it’s resources it would be easy to drive ourselves crazy by focusing on the enormous scale of the problems we as human beings have caused for ourselves… so what can we do to stay sane but also ‘do our bit’ for the environment?

The Green Alliance suggests we transform the notion of a ‘war on plastic’ into a ‘war on plastic litter’.  So for instance banning unnecessary plastic and products that are likely to be littered would be a good start – things like straws and cotton buds most people can live without… and if you do need a straw there are reusable options available.  It is these small items which easily find their way into our waterways and hedgerows.

We can all take a few minutes to pick up any litter in our local community and spread awareness of how these items end up in our oceans and our food chain.

We can challenge our supermarkets to re-think how they use plastic packaging… maybe not to the extent of dumping it all at their checkout which has been the tactics of some (and which I do find quite funny though I don’t think I’d have the nerve to do it!!)… but perhaps by sending a letter/email/tweet or just changing your own buying choices which possibly has more power than anything else! … hit them where it hurts!!

We can choose re-usable items over disposable ones by small adjustments to our daily routines… it hasn’t really been too much trouble to start carrying re-usable shopping bags; many people are now doing the same with coffee cups and I keep some spare cutlery in my car/office/bag for eating on the go.

I’m going to really give some thought as to how we can change some more of our habits to reduce the plastic we use on a regular basis and will let you know how we get on.  I would love to hear about any other ways of reducing plastic waste, or just your thoughts on this hot topic!

In the meantime, I’m not going to worry too much about the plastic in my rubbish bag… I’ve found out my local council incinerates all ‘general’ waste in order to power their recycling centres so, until a better solution is found, I guess that will have to do!

Until next time,

Jac.x

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