We all know that the world is facing a global pollution crisis. For my part, though, I have sometimes felt rather powerless to do very much about it. Diligent recycling habits (for example) can seem like a mere drop in the (tragically plastic-filled) ocean when one sees the massive amount of waste which can quickly build up if it is not collected. Edinburgh City Council is pretty good about making regular local collections. But the inevitable disruptions over the recent festive period meant that our curb-side bins were very quickly overflowing. And that was just one part of one street. It was breathtaking to realise just how much waste we produce.
How very heartening it is, then, to see the rise of the movement in favour of avoiding generating waste in the first place, with a particular focus on reducing single-use plastics. Here’s a great article which sets out a number of practical, doable steps we can all take towards reducing our waste. To avoid feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem, the advice is to pick a handful of solutions and just make a start.
The list includes a welcome reference to a reduction in plastic straws. Thank goodness food outlets are starting to recognise the need to find alternative drinking solutions. Incredibly, over 500 million straws are used every day in the USA. That’s enough to fill more than 46,400 school buses every year. Just image this quantity of plastic in our oceans, and that’s just the straws.
Rejecting a simple straw in a bar may feel like yet another rather pointless drop in the ocean. Let us hope, however, that by consistently taking a small step like this, changes at a macro level will emerge.
Here are the five things I am going to start/stop doing as of today:
- cut out using cling film. I have in recent times drastically reduced the amount of cling film I use, preferring instead to store food etc in reusable containers. It’s time to go the whole way and stop using cling film simply because it is more convenient;
- stop buying bottles of water. If I think I am likely to need a drink, I can take water in a reusable bottle from home;
- become more active about refusing drinking straws. No more complaining to Hub about the unwanted serving of straws with my drinks. From now on, I’ll be asking for my drink without a straw in the first place;
- stop using tea bags. I can’t believe that even the humble teabag contains plastic. I drink a LOT of tea during the day, most of which is leaf tea. Nevertheless we still have plenty of teabags in the cupboard ‘for convenience’. But seriously – how much more inconvenient is it really to make a pot? Enough said;
- switch to plastic-free cleaning. I am a great one for different sprays/wipes/cloths so this will be an interesting move. I am looking forward to learning new cleaning tips and techniques.
With only a moment’s thought it is obvious that change on a global scale can only truly happen if we all make individual efforts to do things differently. I’m excited to embrace these endeavours and will report back in a few months’ time about how I am getting on.
In the meantime, how about you? What steps could you take to help save the planet?