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 😀