Plastic Fantastic: Getting Started

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Lately I have been feeling uncomfortable about plastic. Admittedly, this is coming a little late to the party, but – to steal a line, I think, from The West Wing – let’s celebrate the fact that I showed up at all.

It isn’t that I was unconcerned before. I recycled whatever I could within the limits of my local provision. But then one sentence caught me. I don’t remember whether I heard it or read it. I don’t remember where. But I remember the sentence.

Every piece of plastic ever made still exists.

I am a well educated person. I consider myself relatively environmentally aware. Even so, I had never though about it like that, and the sentence has haunted me ever since.

The thing is: what on earth can I do about it? It feels like anything I do will be a drop in the ocean. It feels like in some areas, to use less plastic will be to compromise on the quality of the products I eat and use. It feels like for some products plastic free is simply not an option. So it is an overwhelming thing, and the easiest thing is simply to declare it too hard and not even try.

Which, as a global society, of course, is more or less the strategy we have taken. It is not a strategy that appears to be serving us well. Yes, there are some attempts, such as charging for plastic carrier bags and the current furore around plastic straws. Again, drop in the metaphorical ocean.

My home, I have realised is packed with plastic. Food packaging. Toiletry and cosmetic packaging. The kettle. The fan. The toilet seat. Toys. Nappies. The television.

Some of these are slightly more palatable than others. The toys and household items I at least expect we will get a lot of use out of. The toys can be passed on to others when we’re done with them. The disposable plastic is what really bothers me. Some of it I can see a way to improve. Others I can’t.

So, I have been trying to work out what steps I can take. I am going to post about these over several posts, and for today, just talk about one I have already mentioned on the blog.

That is, getting a weekly veg box from Abel and Cole (other providers are available!). There is always some plastic packaging in there, but usually only on 2 or 3 of the vegetable products. It is dramatically less than if we had bought the same foods from the supermarket. I also try to reuse the punnets that house soft things like tomatoes and grapes. These make excellent fridge organisation receptacles. Up to a point. You only need so many. Fortunately, you can also return packaging if you are unable to recycle it, and they presumably deal with it as appropriate.

So, it is a step in the right direction. A small one. Which I acknowledge is open to me because our household finances allow it. Something which has not always been, and may not always be, the case. Which is why I am looking at other routes too. And that is a post for another day…

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