One of the biggest environmental problems facing the world today is plastic pollution. The current statistics are that one rubbish truck of plastic enters the ocean every minute which equates to 12.7 million tonnes a year. That doesn’t even cover the amount going into landfill because, are you ready for this, only 9% of the world’s plastic is recycled!
Like you, my response is horror and disgust but the problem seems so immense I find it hard to imagine that any of us can make a difference. But you/we totally can – because we have the power to turn off the plastic tap! Of course we can reduce, reuse and recycle our plastic, we can even beach clean, but by far our greatest power is to REFUSE plastic.
To be HarmLess we have to start saying NO to single-use plastics: not only by refusing to buy products packaged in plastic but also by telling the producers why we aren’t buying them. We have to call companies to account for their packaging choices. We use our people purchasing power to promote change.
So part of being HarmLess for me is to contact companies and let them know the change I would like to see. I usually do this via Twitter including their Twitter handle. But you could email, put messages on their Facebook page or talk to the managers in shops, cafes and supermarkets. You could also encourage your local, independent shops to become plastic free.
The next step is to turn off our personal plastic tap: the flow of plastic into our homes. The way I stopped was by facing the problem up front. For three weeks I collected (washed and dried) every piece of single-use plastic that entered our home. I bagged it up and then after three weeks poured it all out on the living room floor. It is utterly shocking. I promise you it will change you. You will start to find inventive solutions to avoid plastic packaging: vegetables and fruit from local markets or box schemes, taking your own containers or paper bags to every shop (I even now have tongs with me to stop the fishmonger putting on another pair of plastic gloves to handle one piece of fish); carrying your own water bottles and coffee cups etc. etc. Make it a game how to beat the plastic problem and it will become your new joy.
In the meantime, as we turn off our personal plastic taps, please do reuse or recycle the plastic in your home and collect litter you see when out and about.
So here’s my challenge. From tomorrow, keep one weeks’ worth of plastic packaging that enters your home. Wash it, dry it and bag it (it involves a bit or work but this is part of the process) and then on the last evening of your week take it all out and look at it. Think about how much plastic each family must put in their bins every week. This isn’t about judgement – this is about seeing the truth of the problem. Please then take a photo of it and put it on social media. Be honest and inspire your friends to be part of the change towards harmlessness too. Then please sort your plastic, recycle it and start working on ending the flow of your plastic tap.
For more visit https://www.mandypreece.uk