Ditching the plastic
When I was a child plastic seemed to be a wonder material. I can remember as a child having plastic toys – dolls house furniture, recorders, cars, and all sorts of cheap stocking filler type things. Nothing lasted very long, it was all made abroad in Hong Kong or China, but it was cheap when ‘proper’ toys were quite expensive. The only other toys I had at the time was a doll, its clothes hand knitted by my grandmother, and pencils, tins of watercolour paints (with wonderful names like crimson lake, and magenta) and drawing paper.
Later, as plastic became more refined we had plastic erasers, plastic propelling pencils, boxes, bags plant pots, ornaments and a myriad other things. I can remember when cling film came in and plastic packaging began to appear in the newfangled shops we called supermarkets (they would be mini-marts now). Since those days we have come full circle. Not a day goes by without someone posting pictures of exotic islands in the oceans of the world, with beaches and seas full of plastic. I guess none of us really thought about it in those early days, though I can remember feeling completely repelled by Crimplene; my dolly’s cot blanket, beautifully made by my father for my sister and I one Christmas, melted when someone accidentally dropped a match on it. Horrifyingly that blanket will be intact complete with hole somewhere in a landfill site). Ugh!
And its not just foreign seas and beaches that are affected by plastic. I remember years ago walking on the beach at Hunstanton and finding plastic debris (and others kinds that had come from sewage outlets and ships and being horrified at what was floating around us as we swam in what we thought of as a clean beach. I’m sure that its very different now and that the waters are cleaner (don’t let it put you off Hunstanton – its a lovely seaside), but I suspect it was pretty much the same everywhere a beach was near a major town or shipping lane. And of course these days we are more than used to seeing empty packaging, including plastic drinks bottles kicking around the streets, and floating in our seas and rivers.
But what can we do about it the problem of plastic that won’t go away? Of course the best thing is not to buy it in the first place, but that is not always practical, so what else can we do…
Well, there are some options – clearly we can’t change the world on our own but if we do our bit and others do there’s we can make a real difference.
- Write to manufacturers to ask for non plastic packaging – or at least fully recyclable packaging
- write to MP’s and local councillors re your concerns about recycling and packaging
- buy local and if possible fair trade and recyclable
- avoid purchasing items in plastic, or non recyclable packaging – go for glass jars and bottles rather than plastic.
- recycle everything and always dispose of rubbish safely so it doesn’t pose a risk to people or the environment
- buy loose fruit and veg and put it in paper or cloth bags to carry it home from the shop
- Give feedback to local shops and takeaways and ask for non plastic containers and cutlery. The Pond Quay has recently moved to using paper containers for most of its takeaways and is committed to further improvements with respect to sustainability. This has been loudly applauded by people locally and shows what can be done where there is vision and commitment.
- Use cloth bags instead of plastic carrier bags to carry shopping
- consider using reusable sanitary protection and babies nappies made from cloth – available from some supermarkets (including Unicorn in Chorlton)
- avoid buying anything that is paper covered with plastic.
- when buying clothing or furnishings look for items made from silk, hemp, linen, and wool, or Tencel, all of which have a lower impact on the environment than polyester, cotton, leather, rayon, and acrylic. Microfibres from polyester fabrics, and microbeads used in cosmetics are currently a cause for concern as they are getting into the food chain with unhealthy and unwelcome results.
- buy secondhand items – and sell or give away your unwanted items so that they are re – used rather than sent to landfill.
You may have other ideas – if so let us know by dropping a line to any of the church personnel (emails on the front page of the website), or via St Clements facebook page.
If you would like a pattern to make a simple shopping tote please get in touch. If there is enough interest we will run a group to make them. Cheap and cheerful but very effective. If you would like to meet up to write group letters to companies please let us know and we will organise an event …
Together we can clean up our world for the sake of our children and all the other creatures who live here with us.
PS The companies mentioned above have not asked to be mentioned – they are simply places which practice sustainable ways of doing business.
Links: (we do not endorse specific companies or products but you may find these websites useful