I’d like to think we’ve improved in recent times. We used to see guests arriving with much of their luggage packed in an assortment of plastic bags, nowawdays we’re much more likely to see reuseable bags and cloth bags instead which is great. But your rubbish bins tell a different story!
It absolutely can feel like ‘yet another thing to do’ to reduce plastic consumption when our lives are already so busy. It’s much easier to shop for convenience rather than for the health of the planet but we have to remember that this country is woeful when it comes to recycling – around a quarter of our waste still goes to landfill. Two thirds of the plastic that we put in our recycling ends up on ships to be sent overseas. China used to be the biggest importer of our plastic waste but banned us in 2018 because the waste was too contaminated and polluted, Malaysia is the second biggest buyer of our plastic waste but is also now pulling back saying - quite rightly - it won’t be the world’s dumping ground. After Malaysia most of our plastics now end up in Indonesia, Poland or Turkey. As a consequence of having fewer places to ship our waste the UK is now incinerating more plastics than it used to which is appalling. The answer has to be in consuming less in the first place.
Here are the easy wins that we should all be doing:
Always take a shopping bag out with you
If you’re a frequent visitor to a coffee shop for a takeaway coffee, please invest in a resuseable travel coffee cup
Don’t use plastic straws
Buy loose fruit and veg wherever you can
Buy dried goods in bulk where you can to save on packaging
If you live near a shop that has a fill station – use it! If you’re staying with us visit Jempsons - our local independent supermarket - you can buy rice and pasta and all sorts of other things at the fill station
If you go on a day out and your little ones pester you for a small souvenir, try to encourage something that isn’t made of plastic that will end up discarded at the end of the holiday and in landfill for the rest of eternity. We know it’s hard! But it’s their future we’re protecting by educating them out of the plastic tat habits that we’ve all become accustomed to.
You might be doing all of this already – in which case great – but the stats show that 56% of households in the UK still put items in the general waste that could be collected for recycling – most notably foil and aerosols. We also have to do better with regards to contamination of recycling. Plastic film and wrapping, toothpaste tubes and drinking/cookware glass are still items that are often not collected locally but are dumped in recycling bins – resulting in collections that will be dumped in their entirety in landfill.
Lots of us watched the Panorama episode ‘Drowning in Plastic’ with Liz Bonnin some years back and were horrified, but did it make us change our habits? I hope so. This isn’t a problem the other side of the world. We, in the developed world, are the biggest offenders and it’s up to us to force the pace of change.