Wednesday, 28 March 2018

More on plastic - or is that less?

Cling film has been around since my childhood. As a youngster I was fascinated with the way this clever material took up and enveloped the shape of the bowl or plate of goodies it was covering. And I always had the urge to punch a whole in its skin - stretched as tight as a drum over a salad bowl or a plate of sausages on sticks. But what a pain it can be to unravel it from its cardboard roll. So many times have I scrunched cling film or torn it in the wrong place, leaving strangely-shaped stretches of plastic film which won't fit over a tub of party snacks.

And we don't need it. A paper napkin or fabric coated in beeswax - which is washable and re-usable - does the job, as does a simple tea-towel. Edwardian homes managed to keep party food fresh by simply covering their scrumptious offerings with cloth. No devastating newspaper reports of the 1902 curly sandwiches scandal come to mind!

Empty toothpaste tubes are a devil to recycle and a jar of paste, available at health-food stores, are a perfect alternative, and you don't waste it by squeezing too much out of the tube. Less mess, more fish, less rubbish. Dental floss made from silk will break down more easily over time than traditional materials - that might be a better option for those who love to floss.

Tea bags - who needs them? Nowt wrong with loose tea? It is messier to empty teapots out afterwards  if using leaf tea and you can't drop tea leaves into a cup for a single brew as you can with a tea bag, but there's nothing wrong with an infusion. Or we can simply use tea bags which don't contain micro-plastics - it'll take more effort to read the label on the packet carefully, but  if 40 million of us in the UK alone do this the oceans might have a chance.

A friend of mine is now taking her own container into take-away restaurants for her lunch. And you don't need plastic cutlery if you take your eating irons with you. It's a minor inconvenience but herring gulls are at less risk of filling their stomachs with bits of broken up plastic handles if we ditch throw-away knives, forks and spoons.

Small acts could be the beginning of a change of habit. The end of our relationship with plastics. Who wants to see images of turtles swimming through trails of blue plastic bags? Or fish with throttling scarves of the stuff cutting into their flesh? Seals who have grown up with a cummerbund of plastic that slices into their blubbery skin, creating wounds and pain from a belt which won't move on a notch as the animal grows fatter?

It's getting easier to carry your own shopping bag to the grocers, removing the need for plastic carriers. Such actions can make a difference to our seas and oceanic livestock, victims of man's desire for that wonder material: polyvinylchloride, low-density polyethylene, polystyrene or styrofoam.

Any more for any more? Are you managing a break-away from plastics? Do let me know your suggestions. 🐙🐢🐠🐟🐳🐬🐋🌊 The oceans will be glad of it.

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