Plastic, Not so Fantastic?
"Normal, everyday people know what matters most, they hold the key to change because they understand more than anyone, what needs to change. They see it and live it, day in, day out."
Gina Martin in Be the Change.
Let's talk about single use....why is single use plastic so bad?
Actually, not all single use is bad - when used medically, it’s sterile and practical. In the home though, it’s a different scenario. It's used for convenience, ease and out of habit.
Over the last few years I’ve realised that, although we think we are recycling products in the UK, in fact very little makes it to the end of the recycling process and, therefore, reused like we would hope. Very little of what we put out to be recycled actually gets recycled! In fact, of all the plastic ever produced only 9% has been recycled, 12% has been incinerated and 79% has ended up in landfill or in the natural environment, where it often collects in rivers and eventually the ocean.
According to Greenpeace over 300 tonnes of plastic A DAY has been shipped to countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and places as remote as Nakuru in Kenya which have no easy means of handling or destroying it . So, it’s often stored and burnt illegally causing devastating environmental, ecological and human issues. The Conservative government pledged in the 2019 election to stop shipping the plastic that we thought we were recycling - to reduce our environmental impact and to reduce our impact on the recipient countries.)This hasn't been carried out as promised, figures reported actually show an increase in shipments in the first part of 2020!
In 2021 the UN is going to try and increase transparency so we know when wealthy nations dump plastic waste onto poorer ones. This would hopefully result in cleaner oceans within 5 years.
It’s so clear to me that we can not carry on like this and wait for the government or even the UN ...So what can WE do? How can WE stop this?
We cannot rely on the government to ‘do the right thing’ when it comes to reducing our impact on the planet and our oceans with single use plastic. We need to make the changes in our home and life as much as is possible. There are nearly 8 billion people that exist on this Earth. If we all collectively made a conscious effort to make just one change then I believe the greatest impact can come from US.
A recent magazine poll found that of the UK's best selling branded groceries less than half had fully recyclable packaging . To make it even harder for the general public; less than 40% of items were clearly labelled as to how they could be recycled. We need recycling labels to be clearer on UK packaging - how often do you look at packaging in your home and still not know what you can do with it?
Here are some ideas that I have found for reducing single use and recycling products that are more difficult, but we inevitably can't avoid.
How can we recycle better?
Firstly, when we think of recycling we need to think about other factors in the life cycle of products - its carbon footprint, where it came from, its process, its manufacture. It would be much better for the planet to consciously try to get products from locally known retailers, where you know it hasn't been shipped across the globe. It is less likely to be packaged with tonnes of single use plastic for that journey, which will more than likely just get thrown away.
Could you get a milk/juice delivery with reusable glass bottles rather than buying from the supermarket?
How about buying from local independent grocery stores? They are much more likely to have fresh fruit and vegetables without single use plastic. They often have van drops that make it more convenient and you would be supporting small businesses at the same time.
Foil - foil wrappers are often easily recycled but too small to pick up, try to collect a bit together so it's easily collected.
Look for the triangles on wrapping that have numbers in them - normally 1, 2 or 5 can be easily recycled at kerbside.
Crush bottles and tins - they will take up less room being transported and conveyor belts if they are squashed at home first.
Screw lids back on to plastic bottles - they tend to get lost. But, sometimes it says on the bottle or pack if the cap is supposed to be off!
Also, metal bottle caps could be placed in a clean empty tin with the lid pushed shut.
The bathroom is one of the easiest places to change your habits. Bamboo toothbrushes, reusable face products, even toothpaste tablets are available now.
Terracycle is also around now which helps to recycle the "non-recyclable" including things like crisp packets, baby equipment and office supplies. They are distributed locally so check out their website www.terracycle.com for options near you. There is also LoopStore https://loopstore.co.uk/ which is the first online shopping service that delivers food, drink and household essentials from leading brands in reusable packaging. Amazing!
Watch this space for more sustainably green ideas and keep up to date with options on www.harris-rose.com and @its_the_green_queen.
Spreading the Green Love to you all and thank you for reading xxxxxx