Friday, 23 March 2018

On the subject of plastics

I am old enough to remember being told at school,  'In a few years time we might all be wearing plastic shoes, using plastic bags, buying plastic phones ...' I was about eight when our class teacher told us this and I thought plastic shoes would be very inflexible and tough on the skin. Of course I wasn't sophisticated enough to realise there are many hardness and softness grades of plastic.

Many decades later the sight of mishappen turtles and seals with rings of plastic cutting into their necks has persuaded me to think back to when I was eight and we weren't routinely using plastic as a covering, for bags, for bottles or as wrappers.

In the garden I am putting all my plastic pots out for recycling and will be going back to using clay or terracotta ones. I tend to re-use old plastic bags as liners for bins or seed trays and I will continue doing that. Inside the house I've gone back to bars of soap - rather than liquid soap dispensers - and use glass bottles rather than the plastic alternative. I will use more pencils than plastic biros or felt tips. We are weaning ourselves off ready-packed apples and buying them loose - to be packed - along with other fruits and veg, in newspaper or brown paper bags. However, even biscuits packaged brightly in thin cardboard boxes are doubly wrapped in see-through polythene and black plastic trays. What to do about that is stumping me at present. Similarly washing up liquid and detergents will be in plastic containers until the forseeable future - I assume we wait until 'ecover' ( other brands are available) re-use glass bottles in place of plastic ones.

It's easy to throw out plastic toothbrushes and nail brushes to replace them with wooden bristle versions. But it is the act of throwing out that is causing the trouble. Wash ups can be replaced by cotton dishwashing cloths - and I do recycle my old ones - eventually, though, the plastic ones will have to be thrown out and end up in landfill or in the seas and oceans. I tend to buy cotton clothes and I do recycle or car boot them or donate them. Our pre-loved garments will rot down, in time.And they still make good rags. I try to buy toys for the children I know that are wooden rather than polypropylene but packaging, again, can reduce the effectiveness of trying to have a plastic-free world.

Take out food is likely to be an ongoing issue. Perhaps we should try to sit down and enjoy a drink or bite rather than consuming on the move? But take aways cause problems: 25% of plastic produced globally is packaging. Even without a packet the film around a sandwich or similar is likely plastic. Plastic straws, cups and cutlery go with the take away territory and add to an already enormous problem.

Currently only 14% of plastic is recycled. By 2050 there will be more of it than fish in the sea. Anyone got other good tips for cutting down the use of and the throwing out of this fish-suffocating material?

No comments:

Post a Comment