Plastic not fantastic
David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series was great at getting people to wake up to the harm caused by plastics in our oceans. But despite all the hand wringing – people continue to use and dispose of more and more single use plastic and that has to stop.
Why is plastic so bad?
Precisely because plastic is so good! It can last for centuries – using it for a product like a fork, stirrer, straw, drinks bottle – intended to be used for minutes and then thrown away – is madness. Using it in plumbing materials where longevity is a good think makes complete sense.
Plastic is made from oil. As we move away from oil to renewables for our fuel – the fossil fuel industry see single use plastic as a replacement market. The plastic lobby are pushing single use plastic as a wonder solution to the pandemic. We need to push back hard against their attempts to roll back the progress we were making in reducing demand for single use plastic items like carrier bags, coffee cups and water bottles.
So is recycling the solution?
No it is not. The fizzy drinks industry are trying to green up their image by telling us that their plastic drinks bottles are recyclable. But, in December 2018, Great Britain’s Royal Statistical Society stated that only about nine percent of all plastic ever made has likely been recycled.
Now if Coca Cola and pals supported a bottle return scheme like this one, then that would be a bit of help – but single use is still rubbish.
What about biodegradable alternatives?
Sorry – but these are still rubbish. Many so-called biodegradable coffee cups, packaging etc only biodegrade under very specific circumstances. Dropped on our beaches or countryside they can still take years to break down and in the meantime are a hazard to wildlife. Plus they are still a waste of resources and fuel the Carbon emergency.
Think of a wooden disposable fork. Made from a tree chopped down somewhere – in a factory – probably in Asia – transported in a lorry to the docks – into a shipping container – transported across the globe – to another dock – into another lorry – to a warehouse – into another lorry – to a shop – into a car – to a BBQ – to be used for a few minutes – then thrown away. Or – go to cutlery drawer – take out fork – use fork – wash fork – return to cutlery drawer!
Reuse not single use!
Watch an excellent video from The Story of Stuff project on plastic here. The Animated Short pulls back the curtain on the plastic pollution headlines, revealing the true causes and consequences of the global plastics crisis.