Plastic Avoidance: Part One

We have for many years tried to keep our plastic consumption to a minimum but have found it very difficult when also trying to incorporate other ethics into our shopping habits.  For example – it’s pretty easy to buy loose, unpackaged fruit and vegetables if you take your own bags to the market with you, but if you want organic produce, it’s usually wrapped in plastic.

We always recycled it of course but we know that a plastic food container, because of its low melting point, cannot be recycled into another plastic food container.  It can really only be downcycled into things like plastic lumber which cannot be recycled again.  Glass, paper and tin cans on the other hand, can be recycled ad infinitum.  Bottles will become bottles again and again; drinks cans and baked beans tins will become cans and tins again and again; paper can be recycled again and again, and eventually composted.

 

So, even though we were recycling, we felt very bad about the plastic in our bins.  Add to that the worry that maybe the plastic being collected by the council recycling lorry wasn’t even being recycled and … well, let me explain:

I had an email a couple of weeks ago from Avaaz campaigning group saying that studies had shown that most (about 80%) of the plastic in the ocean gyres was coming from rivers in Asia and Africa.  Finding it very hard to believe that people in Asia and Africa consume more plastic than people in Europe and America, I was reminded of an email conversation I’d had with someone at Waitrose supermarket.  They told me that there was no facility to recycle their plastic bags in this country so they sent them to Asia for recycling.

Well – if Waitrose does it, you can bet a lot of other companies do it too, maybe even councils?  And if the UK sends plastic to Asia for recycling, you can bet other countries do too.  If the same is happening in Africa that would explain why 80% of the plastic in the oceans arrives there from those continents.  The plastic that I diligently put out for recycling might be ending up in the ocean!

It’s all speculation but it makes a lot of sense and the only way I can be sure that I’m not part of the problem is to take control of it myself.

We now realise that the good done for the Earth in growing organic, is compromised if they wrap the organic produce in plastic.  Plastic not only litters and pollutes when it’s disposed of, the very production of it is toxic since it is (usually) made from oil.

So we’re not going to pay in to that any more.

We have to prioritise plastic avoidance and hopefully these ethical companies will respond with ethical packaging.  In the meantime, we’ll show you our plastic avoidance tactics.

Starting tomorrow 😀

See all our Plastic Avoidance Tactics here

10 thoughts on “Plastic Avoidance: Part One

  1. Sadly ironic, isn’t it?
    That something for good (organic/sustainable stuffs) are packed in plastic, shipped in a diesel truck to an energy-consuming store & refrigerator, only to have the plastic from the recycle bin end up floating in the ocean.
    Plastic is an irony, too.
    So many things have been (and/or could have been) made better by plastics.
    (There are good examples: life-saving medical applications, reduction in weights producing more efficient vehicles).
    Still, if not handled properly after its intended use/life, it becomes a detriment.
    Keep up the good fight!

    Seek peace (and paper),

    Paz

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love when my carers catch up with me at the supermarket, I look down at their empty hands and ask. Bags?(I enquirer as to my recycled shopping bags). They have been left in the car. The carer suggests using plastic bags and moving the groceries to my bags once back at the car…………Growl! Cheers,H

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great post!

    Our mindset about plastic recycling is similar that of ignoring modern day slavery. If the recycling is done in another country instead of our own back yard and they behave badly, it’s not our problem. There are millions of slaves in the world today and if you get clothes from certain countries it’s likely to be made from slave labor. But if we don’t see who makes the clothing then it’s not our problem.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly! It’s like – we don’t have to think about the mess we’re making if we dump it in someone else’s backyard. In the end we can’t trust someone else to do something for us because we don’t really know if it’s getting done. We have to own the problem and take control of it ourselves, as individuals. That makes us powerful 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such useful stuff! Thank you. China has recently banned the import of plastic for recycling – I believe a lot of our recycling waste was sent there. The buying loose is difficult. I have no greengrocer in my area, and like you was buying plastic wrapped organic fruit and veg from a supermarket. My daughter who does have a greengrocery near her says that though she has tried to use it, their fruit and veg is tired, and she can get fresher from the Tesco next door. The small retailers just don’t have the turnover to keep their stock fresh:( Can’t wait to hear more about your strategy x

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s very interesting about China, thank you for telling me. It is ridiculous that we often don’t have the opportunity to avoid the plastic – you really have to go out of your way to do it. Do you have a weekly market in your area? We found one near us and the men who run it are really friendly, they provide paper bags for putting your selected loose produce in and although it’s not organic as such, they were quite knowledgeable about chemicals on crops and said they think it’s awful and wouldn’t sell stuff with poison on it. The quality of their produce is great and much better value for money than the supermarket too. I hope you manage to find a market near you 😀

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