Thursday, 17 January 2019

It's not easy being green...

For many years now I like to think I had done a little bit towards saving this planet. Even when I was a teenager in 1990s I used to say no to plastic carrier bags as I had brought my own. This used to generate a few raised eyebrows but I persisted and since then I have realised that it's not easy being green...

Plastic – As we all know plastic is the new evil that is going to destroy the world. OK, that's a bit dramatic but trying to cut out or at least cut down on plastic can't be a bad thing. In a nutshell plastic is made from petrochemicals such as oil which have to be extracted from the earth and causes a lot of pollution. Plastic takes years to degrade and when I say years I mean it. A single carrier bag can take 20 years to finally rot away and plastic bottles up to 450 years. Not only is this a great pile of rubbish but once it finds itself in the waterways it then chokes and kills the wildlife living in there.

Trying to live a plastic free life isn't easy or cheap. I do a lot of shopping in budget supermarkets because they are cheaper. However all the fruit and vegetables are wrapped in plastic as you can't buy individual items. I understand why they do this as it suits their business model and allows them to sell things as cheaply as they do. By having no scales to weigh out items it saves on costs and also time at the checkout. It also cuts down on waste for them as there are no stray tomatoes left at the bottom of the box or rotten grapes.

Another local supermarket does sell some fruit and vegetables singly but only has thin plastic bags to put your items in. If you ditch them then all your food will end up rolling around the bottom of your trolley and probably off the scales at the checkout. Of course the alternative is paper bags but again it is a cost issue. Paper bags cost more to produce for the retailer and as they weigh more will cost the customer more when they are weighed. Pennies perhaps but it all adds up.

Since I've mentioned the cost here's one example how it costs more to ditch the plastic. With our evening meal we like to have a glass of squash or to be particular, fruit and barley. I buy this for around 69p a bottle. With it being a dilute it lasts much longer than other drinks that come in plastic bottles but it is still in a plastic bottle. I've had a look through the shelves and the cheapest non-plastic cordial comes in at £2.70. This is nearly four times as much! Of course plastic is lighter so it cheaper on fuel costs to transport and also not prone to smashing. Last year I bottle a glass bottle of brown sauce. It fell out of the cupboard and smashed on impact even though it was on the bottom shelf and it fell onto a mat. Is it a case of giving everything up to be green?

Recycling – As you can from my photograph we have a lot of bins provided by our council. Thank goodness we have a double length drive and only one car (polishes halo) so we have somewhere to store them. The problem for us is that recently collection dates and size of bins have been changed. This impacts especially on our paper and cardboard collection as the bin hasn't changed but it is now only being collected once a month rather than every two weeks. We seem to fill ours to the top each time and have to store the excess until it is emptied again. Having piles of recycling around the house isn't great so what's the alternative? None of the local supermarkets have paper recycling facilities. The local shopping centre does have one but the positioning of it means it is dangerous to park at, dangerous to get out of your car and dangerous to drive away from. As the only one around it's also always full so you have the choice of taking it all home again, trying to force it in or just dumping and running off (while trying not to collide with the passing cars). The council has told people they can take it to the local tip (sorry recycling centre) but I never go that way so a trip to it would mean using extra petrol and creating more pollution in order to recycle some paper.

Last week was the first paper collection since Christmas. Realising that people had more paper and boxes to recycle than normal they said they would collect the extra as long it was tied up with string and placed by the side of the bin. Since we had bought a new vacuum cleaner after the old one had finally lost power I had a huge box sitting on the driveway. I took off the plastic handle, pulled the box apart, crushed it down and then tied it with string. When the recycling lorry came along I watched them to make sure they picked it up and they did. They then went across the road and did the same but this time the paper was all in a huge plastic bag. I wondered what they were going to do with it and then I saw them chuck it in with all the other paper and cardboard. This made me question the whole recycling thing. Does any of the paper and cardboard actually get recycled? Did the plastic bag contaminate the whole collection? Do the binmen just not care? Am I wasting my time and effort in scrupulously separating every little scrap of paper?

Have you found it hard to be green? Do you find it takes a lot of time and money?

2 comments:

  1. cost does play a big part on how we shop. I've invested in some small draw string bags from lakeland to put my loose fruit and veg in at the supermarkets and avoid plastic wrapped items #goinggreen

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  2. I find our entire recycling system very confusing and have to admit that I've ranted about it before.... I just think it's too complex and not at all consumer friendly, even those who really want to do their bit for the environment have to read through misleading labels, nearly do separate research work to figure out what kind of plastic can be put in which bin... It can't be that difficult to make it a little easier for consumers? #goinggreen

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