Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Some thoughts about plastic.

Here are some statistics about plastic: 

  • Time it takes for a styrofoam cup to biodegrade - 50 years. 
  •  Number of plastic bottles sold globally in 2016 - 480 billion. 
  •  Amount of recyclable plastic most families throw away each year - 40 k 
  •  Weight in tonnes of plastic waste that will be in landfills or the natural environment by 2050, if current trends continue - 12 billion. 
  • Tonnes of plastic generated annually in the UK - 5 million. 
Plastic, that eminently useful and ubiquitous stuff that figures so largely in our lives. We can recycle but could be actually live without plastic now?

My daughter has proudly shown me food storage containers, now often just called tupperware (with a small t to differentiate it from actual Tupperware, the stuff that was sold, and maybe still is, by party plan - I remember my mother hosting Tupperware parties!), made from bamboo instead of plastic.

She and her partner and children also use toothbrushes made from bamboo.

But she still uses those handy resealable plastic bags.

She has tried to avoid too many plastic toys for her latest offspring - wooden baby toys are so much more pleasing - but how do you avoid Lego and Playmobil, high quality, imagination- stimulating playthings?

I found myself wondering yesterday about vegans and plastic. What do they do for footwear? It always seemed acceptable to wear imitation leather shoes and carry imitation leather bags - pleather, as my daughter calls it. But presumably this has a high proportion of plastic and an eco-conscious vegan should be avoiding plastic if possible. Cloth bags are an easy substitute for leather ones but shoes are more difficult. Maybe they should all wear espadrilles: rope soles made from good old hemp and cloth uppers.

I keep hearing reports of people who make their own shampoo - it comes in a bar like soap - and even their own deodorant. The latter sounds quite horrid, made with bicarbonate of soda and other ingredients. All this to avoid using plastics.

There are some lengths to which I will not go. And I suspect that most people’s lives are too busy to spend time making their own shampoo and deodorant. No doubt someone will make a small but ecological fortune marketing such products, in suitable biodegradable packaging.

In the meantime we can take up “plogging”: jogging while picking up litter. Oxford Dictionaries explains plogging’s Swedish derivation, from “either plocka upp (pick up) or plocka skräp (pick up litter) and jogga (jog)”. We often pick up litter while walking but around here I fear you would not get much jogging done as you would have to stop every few yards to pick up other people’s mess. 

Still, the idea is good and the word is pleasing.

No comments:

Post a Comment