Weather wise, March has been rather odd. We have the longer days, we’ve had the spring equinox but we’ve also had snow and very cold temperatures. The gerbera, that has been thriving outside my front door for the last 4 years, has been badly hit. The green shoots and buds that were coming up are all gone. It’s a shame, for a plant that is often seen as an annual in our climate, this one has done remarkably well. I guess I can’t complain. I have bought some dahlia bulbs to put in the pot instead.
Our little friendly muntjac
The cold weather brought some interesting birds into our garden. Fieldfare and redwing may be reasonably common but not often seen. As with many others, we increased the amount of food we left out for our little feathered and furry friends while temperatures sat firmly below zero and the snow lay equally firmly on the ground. Such a pleasure to see such wildlife up close and our little friend the muntjac deer continues to be a regular visitor.
I’ve learnt a lot about plastic this month. Well, not about plastic per se, but how it’s used and more importantly disposed of, or not as the case may be. Plastic bottle lids are a different type of plastic to the bottle so they can’t be recycled together, in fact some say the lids can’t be recycled at all.
Top on or top off…that is the question
If the lid is left on when put in the waste, the whole thing may well end up in landfill according to the instructions for our local recycling. Yet interestingly, other areas ask that the lids are kept on so I guess it depends on where you live as to what to do.
Plastic for recycling should be clean as food waste can contaminate it and other waste in the same batch. One messy plastic container can cause a whole load to be sent to landfill, so even if I wash out the plastic, if others near me don’t, my plastic may still be landfilled!
Waste recycling plants have a clear floor policy. If by the end of the day, they have not dealt with everything that has arrived it is scooped up and sent to landfill. All in all this is not a positive message and reinforces the need to reduce the use of plastic rather than just ensuring it goes in the right bin.
I’ve made a start to reduce the waste we produce by actively reducing what I use. The online shopping has stopped and since then, so far, no additional plastic bags have come into our house. I’ve done small things, such as empty the bedroom and bathrooms bins straight into the wheelie bin and keep the bag as a liner rather than replace it. I now buy large pots of yoghurt which last several days, rather than small pots, so while there is still waste it is reduced. I was amazed how difficult it is to buy vegetables at the supermarket without plastic packaging, so now I buy my fruit and vegetables from the local farm shop. Though sadly there is still some plastic there!
I’ve looked for different products to buy, in particular items like shampoo, shower and hand gel and cleaning products. These items come in a new pot every time, I really want to be able to re-fill them rather than keep buying a new plastic bottle. This is not easy, certainly if you don’t want to spend a fortune. It also generally means buying over the internet, so there is the question of carbon footprint too. I have found an alternative for hand gel, getting a re-fill rather than a new pump action bottle. This is far from perfect as the re-fill pot is plastic, but it does reduce. For shampoo and conditioner though, those that will re-fill are a minimum of twice as expensive as my normal ones and some more like 10 times as expensive! I will keep looking as there must be a better compromise.
I found a great website that sells all sorts of products from hair care to bath time and moisturisers. They use aluminium bottles which can be returned, washed and re-used. It seems a reasonable price too, but….it’s in the USA and ships to there and Canada only. If you happen to be reading in either of those countries, do check out Plaine Products though. I will continue to look for something similar in the UK.
Another change is toilet paper, this may not be so related to plastic (though it all comes wrapped in the stuff!), but it’s sad that trees are destroyed simply to go down the toilet. On top of that lots of bleach and other chemicals are used in its manufacture.
Bamboo toilet paper wrapped in (recyclable) plastic
I found Cheeky Panda bamboo toilet paper which I was able to order from Amazon. Bamboo is a grass and once harvested grows back and can be harvested every year. Its natural properties mean it can be manufactured without the use of harsh chemicals so this is our new toilet paper of choice. Imagine my disappointment though when the box arrived with plastic wrappers inside. I will be writing to them about that. This YouTube video is somewhat cheesy but gives some good information.
There is so very far to go, but I do get a sense that things are slowly changing, or maybe it is just my awareness that is changing. Nonetheless, there are some good news stories…
Costa Rica is looking to ban all single use plastic by 2021, that’s all single use plastic, from cutlery to coffee cups, from bottles to coffee stirrers and many other things besides. Go Costa Rica!!
India has banned disposable plastics in Delhi and its surrounding areas. This ban is over a year old now, I can’t find information on what difference it has made thus far.
Plastic is being turned into pellets and mixed with asphalt to build roads, in other countries but even here in the UK it is on trial. The claim is that the roads are longer lasting which is great news for those of us dodging potholes. Only 0.5% of the mixture is plastic though, but a step in the right direction.
The BBC is banning single use plastics on all its sites by 2020 starting by scrapping single use cutlery and cups by the end of this year. This was inspired by the Queen implementing a similar ban in her palaces.
Source: The Ocean Project
It is not all doom and gloom and even the UK Government has launched a consultation on the idea of deposit return scheme for plastic bottles alongside Theresa May’s vow to eliminate plastic waste in the UK by 2042. There are many other amazing stories out there of individuals who do so much to clear up the mess of others. But for me the strongest message is not to use it in the first place. There is still much to do so I will continue with my quest and talk to others about what I am doing. Our oceans and the future of our planet deserves better. People are starting to say this is the Blue Planet effect which I’m sure did bring awareness to many and I’m sure David Attenborough must be delighted that he has made a dent in the world of plastic waste.