Out of sight, out of mind

Until recently I didn’t particularly think about plastic waste. Did any of us, really? As a good citizen, I put my plastic waste into my recycling bin, and it was emptied every other week, and so my plastic might have been out of sight and out of mind, but it was OK, yes?

But that’s changed now.

Firstly of course there was that programme. It struck a chord, and that chord resonated with my own need to economise and my own decision to just basically buy less stuff.

I’m having to watch what I spend (I wrote about that here – Husbanding my Resources), so I’ve naturally become very aware of what I waste. I don’t waste food, I put my kitchen waste in the compost bin, I recycle everything that can be recycled, and I put the minimum into the general bin.

It got me thinking about why plastic is seen as the bad guy here – it’s certainly not the only thing we throw away. Lots of other materials will hang around for centuries without decomposing – anyone who’s ever had time on their hands of an afternoon will know, thanks to Tony Robinson and the team (who only had three days to do it in) that glass, ceramic, metal and bone don’t rot. But plastic is the one we need to worry about. Why is that?

 After all, with plastic, you can recycle it, can’t you? I mean, I’m a good citizen, I put my plastic waste into my recycling bin and it gets emptied every other week, and so my plastic is OK, yes? It goes off to a big factory somewhere, and is turned into more plastic, thus avoiding the need to produce more plastic, and that’s a Good Thing.

Apparently not, according to that other programme, ‘The War Against Plastic‘. There are piles of our plastic rubbish. HUGE piles of our plastic rubbish. In Malaysia. What the actual fuck? I mean, this can’t be my plastic – I’m a good citizen, I put my plastic waste into my recycling bin and it gets emptied every other week, and so my plastic is OK, yes?

We live in a country where the supply chain is phenomenally efficient. I can order something in the morning and have it delivered the same day. But the other end of the supply chain is seriously fucked up, it appears. We buy it, it’s delivered, we unpack it and use it – and then? We throw the packaging away. Into the recycling bin, because we are good citizens and we put our plastic waste into the recycling bin and it gets emptied every other week and so our plastic is OK, yes?

We trust our Local Authority to do what they say they will do – and they appear to be doing it, every other week when they come and empty the recycling bins. But we now know that this isn’t always happening. Where is the break in the link in the chain? The Local Authority assures us that they will recycle our plastics if we put them in the bin. That’s how it works – I pay my Council Tax, and they sort that kind of thing out for me.

And I can’t believe that our Local Authorities are deliberately sending our plastic waste abroad, knowing that it’s going to end up in HUGE piles in Malaysia? So someone, somewhere is promising to recycle our plastic, and being paid to do it – but then not doing it. It’s like fly-tipping on an enormous scale.

Those of us who are good citizens, who put our plastic waste into the recycling bin and get it emptied every other week, should be very angry about that.

Our plastic waste may be out of sight – but it’s no longer out of mind.

Very many thanks to everyone who is Following, Sharing and Liking these posts of mine.

To those who were wondering, no news yet!!!

I always reply to comments from nice people.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. anglosvizzera says:

    We’ve been trying to cut down on plastic waste too – prepare for a ‘shaggy dog story though…

    We started having milk delivered in glass bottles in the New Year. It is probably double the price but it’s convenient, keeps the milkman in business and makes us feel a bit better too. We use organic produce as much as possible so the milk we get is also organic.

    However, there have been a few unpleasant incidents in our area recently with people being caught trying car doors in the middle of the night. This has led to a couple of our near neighbours installing CCTV outside their houses.

    Last week my husband went out to get the milk and discovered one pint (the ‘full milk’ that I use for making Kefir) had been opened and drunk and the empty bottle and lid were discarded by the doorstep.

    I asked my next-door-neighbour if they’d seen anything on their CCTV and found that, along with the other CCTV, a couple of young men had been ‘caught on camera’ at about 3-4am, trying not only car doors but also people’s front doors.

    We all reported the incidents to the police, as did the milkman (whose delivery was around the same time). My next-door-neighbour sent me some of the images from both cameras and I found that the other neighbour had posted one of his on a local Facebook page. So I joined the said FB page to keep an eye on what was happening around our little town and saw that these people had been all over the residential areas of town, being spotted by people coming and going from night-shifts and on other CCTV cameras.

    But a strange coincidence happened as a result of all this – the ‘other’ neighbour that I barely know has a surname the same as one of my female cousins, her married name, and once when he popped over to pick up a parcel I asked if he had relatives in her part of the UK, which he didn’t.

    But I’d completely forgotten that he had the same name as the sister of a very old friend of mine from where I used to live. I’ve never met the sister, but she happens to live not too far from where we are now. When I joined the FB page, I had a look at the members to see if there was anyone else I knew and for each member it showed any ‘mutual friends’.

    Unsurprisingly, there were quite a few mutual friends of our immediate neighbour, and also friend of my husband’s children who live a few miles away. But the other CCTV neighbour showed up as having a mutual friend who was my old friend who I met when I was in my early 20s. Being as I now live in South Somerset and my friend and partner live miles away in Surrey, where they’ve always lived, this seemed a bit odd. After enquiring with him, it turns out that his mum is my friend’s sister!

    So if we hadn’t chosen to eschew plastic milk bottles, I wouldn’t have had a pint stolen, wouldn’t have asked the neighbours about the CCTV images, wouldn’t have joined the local FB page and wouldn’t have found this ‘mutual friend’ connection with my neighbour opposite. Isn’t life strange?

    (Btw, regarding the ‘incidents’, the local police are on the case and many residents on the local FB page seem to have identified the culprits…)

    Getting back to plastic, we recently found a new(-ish) shop in our little town run by a lovely Portuguese lady. It’s all vegan produce (not that we are, but go for grass-fed meat from local organic farms, or Waitrose, depending on the price – maybe another blog subject, “Veganism”?) with a very competitive refill service in operation, and she also has lots of eco-friendly ‘alternatives’ to the usual household items.

    One thing I found there, which I bought for one of my daughters who has occasional eczema, was a bag of ‘soap nuts’ (which are actually seeds) which can be used for laundry. They seemingly grown in abundance in India and other foreign parts (shame it’s not locally of course) and have been used for centuries for washing. You only need 3-5 of the ‘nuts’ (depending on water hardness and dirtiness of clothes), put in a little cotton bag and chucked in with the dirty laundry. They can be reused up to 4 times and work out about 3p per wash. On reading the reviews, I was so impressed that I bought some for myself and have been testing them for the past few weeks. So far so good – with whites, I add a scoop of ‘oxy-bleach’ if I think it’s needed, a scoop of washing soda crystals as we have hard water and white vinegar for the final rinse instead of fabric conditioner.

    Another change I’ve made is using a piece of loofah instead of washing up sponges. Again, they are obviously imported but when they are no longer viable, can be put in the normal compost collection (or heap/bin.) I did look into possibly growing them here, but the climate doesn’t suit, of course.

    This local shop has also started selling organic veg, starting with salad items. The salad is picked that morning and comprises a variety of lovely leaves garnished with edible flowers. It’s far cheaper than the supermarket alternatives too. It has been sold so far in a bag that appears to be ‘plastic’ but is meant to be compostable, although nobody seems to know how long it would take as it’s quite thick. I’ve saved some to use instead of clingfilm, along with my beeswax wraps, and maybe will try and compost a bit to see what happens.

    We went to an Open Day at the organic farm yesterday and I asked again about the bags. The people there didn’t know anything much either, but their individual estimates of decomposition varied from 1-6 years. However, there is a suggestion that we could take our own containers to the shop to buy the salad, which seems like a better option, particularly as it appears that the bags cost 38p each!

    I don’t suppose we’ll be ‘saving the planet’, but it is quite an interesting challenge to change ones habits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is a huge subject, and needs to be tackled locally, nationally and globally!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. anglosvizzera says:

    PS As we live near Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s farm and canteen, we went to his recent Food Fair where pretty well ever utensil and container was compostable. He practises what he preaches 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. oldhowie says:

    Keep in mind in the future when there’s a shortage of plastic we will most likely be buying it back from those countries ! Good blog again sis

    Like

    1. That might be the case if they were actually recycling it – but it’s just sitting there, not rotting!!

      Like

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