As our planet is become more and more degraded at the hands of man,we here at 72&Rising have decided to give you some help in turning this around and doing your bit. Every thursday will be ‘Environmental tip of the week’ day! Feel free to take this opportunity to discuss these issues on the site, you may be able to share some helpful tips of your own to our readers.
A few days ago we watched the movie ‘Bag It’ to review for the April issue of 72&Rising. It really had an impact on us here in the office and hit home with a few truths, so this week we are looking at plastic reduction. Plastics are a massive problem in all areas of our environment, but particularly our waterways. Ingestion of plastics and entanglement can cause a slow torturous death for many marine species like turtles, birds, whales, seals, fish etc. and leaves them open to predation from larger species or vulnerable to other human impacts such as boat strikes. In fact as the movie so clearly shows, in some parts of the ocean there are 40 times more plastic than food! That doesn’t bode well for those that have to live there. Whilst the world is becoming more aware of the need to recycle, it is easy to become complacent in thinking that that is enough. The fact of the matter is that recycling itself takes a great deal of energy to achieve. Many parts of recyclable products (e.g. bottle caps) are not recyclable and some items are only recycled once into a non recyclable product. Then there is the fact that many third world countries around the world have already banned plastic bags, whilst we in first world countries are happy to see a single town go plastic bag free. The worst part of this is that as we don’t want to recycle our first world plastics in our own country as it is a dirty, labor intensive and downright unpleasant job, our plastics are sent off to these third world countries to be sorted and dealt with – this just isn’t their problem to deal with, they are already doing the right thing!
So, whilst I am quite obsessed about recycling and reusing, the movie showed me that I’m not so good at the reducing part. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not a major consumerist and i consider myself pretty good at taking my cloth bags with me (i even carry one in my handbag) or using boxes if i forget, but when i looked at my groceries, many of the everyday things came in plastic. Now i know that it is going to be a bit more of a challenge to remove this plastic as it has become a bit more of a habit than a necessity, but I’m willing to give it a darned good shot!
So here are my 3 challenges/focusses in reducing our plastic consumption:
1) I plan on making net bags for fruit, veg and loose items when supermarket shopping. The aim is to try and visit the farmers markets more often so everything can just go into a basket or cloth bag but realistically sometimes a visit to the shops is necessary as a quick stop.
2) Buy items in bulk from the whole food shops (coffee, rice, honey etc), use fine cloth bags or glass jars to bring home and store in glass containers.
3) Make cleaning products (I’m hoping to even give shampoo etc a go but that all sounds a little harder to do at the moment so ill keep it simple for now) and store in glass containers at home.
This should be a good start to reducing the plastic in our lives. But the more i look into it the more questions i have: what about toothpaste? can i make that? Can i buy my electrical products (memory cards etc) plastic packaging free? As a vegetarian i eat a bit of tofu – is this available plastic free? I obviously have more investigating to do!
I would love to hear from anyone out there who is already plastic free or attempting to do so. How have you achieved this? Do you have any tips of your own to share with us? And finally – is anyone willing to join us in this challenge?