In the previous article we established that we all need a certain amount of plastic in our lives. We all know that plastic does not miraculously disappear once it’s thrown away and that our plastic waste can end up in other people’s back yards and in our oceans. If you use plastic you will create plastic waste.
We have been heartened and impressed by the innovation of companies like Devon Contract Waste and their desire to deal with the mounting plastic problem but sadly we saw first-hand how their efforts are frustrated by the amount of different plastics we have in our world, and the risks contaminated consumer plastics pose to recycling effectively.
There's also a serious and global overuse problem that needs dealing with.
Nature put a waterproof skin on an apple so why does the apple have to be sold in a waterproof plastic bag? We all experience the frustration of finding an item hidden within three layers of packaging. It's reasonable to ask, “Why do we tolerate the waste of such a precious resource as plastics for inappropriate single use packaging?”
The key word here is inappropriate. It is inappropriate to put a plastic bag around an apple for the journey from the shop shelf to the fruit bowl and then put that apple and bag into another carrier bag and throw both away at the journeys end. Unbelievably the cost of the packaging around the product is often a bigger constituent cost of the whole than the product within. It is absurd and we have to reconcile the fact that the consumer then throws the packaging away.
Where is the benefit in that for either the customer or the planet?
We all have a part to play by being savvy about using plastics and refusing to accept wasteful and unnecessary plastics, especially in packaging. So the next time you purchase a product, look at the amount of packaging and ask if it’s necessary? Can it be recycled in your household waste? If the answer to both these questions is “no” then it’s time to challenge the use of this plastic with those retailers and manufacturers to be more responsible.
We can also be more responsible at this time of year when everyone is hoping to receive gifts already presented in the finest, most attractive packaging and which are then further gift wrapped. We are not trying to take anything away from the love and sentiment behind those gifts but we hope there will be a moment for each and every one of us to reflect on the bulging bags of rubbish being disposed of between Christmas and New Year.
Can next year be different? Maybe the new year's resolution for everyone including businesses and retailers would be a pledge to do something positive to save the planet from drowning in plastic waste.