+++THE GREEN RESPONSE TO PLASTIC
Hi, Julie here.
Looking through the window this morning I thought the weather looked nice but then the thought struck me, when looking through the window, whatever is out there, you just don’t see the glass, its become part of the invisible fabric of our lives.
Plastic is a bit like that, it too has become part of the invisible fabric of our lives and in one form or another plays a vital role in providing the many benefits of living in the modern world. However, unlike glass, a natural product made mostly from sand, plastic is not only unnatural, but we have come to realise its presence in the environment threatens long term damage to all living creatures on our planet. Once we start looking for it we can see it everywhere, in our homes and polluting the in environment around us. The sea is downhill from everywhere and that’s where one way or another most plastic ends up. It has become clear we need to reduce its use, especially single and short-term use.
Over the last few years I have tried to find natural substitutes for single and short-term plastic used in the daily activities of our lives. In this article I am happy to share the alternatives I have found and can recommend that will reduce the amount of plastic
Shopping; An easy start is to swap plastic carrier bags for cotton ones, these are better than the plastic ‘bags for life’ sold by supermarkets as when they get soiled they can be easily washed.
Take your own containers to the butchers, wash and reuse.
Shop locally for unwrapped fruit and veg, potatoes last far longer when kept in a cotton bag.
Have milk delivered in reusable glass bottles to your own doorstep. www.findmeamilkman.net will guide to local supplier.
Fill your own reusable plastic free tea bags; tea-direct.co.uk sell them check it out.
Household ; Bamboo is a versatile natural product and I use bamboo chopping boards using a coloured marker pen to indicate use for different foods. I get a year plus use out of them. They are cheap to buy and cheap to replace.
Plastic kitchen utensils, including washing up brushes. can be replaced with wood at a fraction of the cost
Make up your own cleaning products using bicarb of soda, white vinegar and lemon juice. Mixed two parts white vinegar with one-part lemon juice, brush or sprinkle on cold oven/ hob surface and leave for five minutes, dust with bicarb, leave another five minutes and wipe clean. Use this on your stainless-steel sink and see the sparkle!
Wash clothing with Indian Soap Nuts rather than polluting chemicals. They can be bought on the internet from Amazon and as well as being environmental friendly will save you £££!
I buy paper kitchen roll made from bamboo and use each square as a dishcloth which can be washed and reused dozens of times. I have had one roll for nearly a year now and still have at least half of it left. Ditch cling film and use beeswax wraps, they can be washed and reused. Search Amazon on the internet for suppliers.
Last but least; more than just wiping bums! whogivesacrap.org sell 100% recycled toilet paper which comes wrapped in paper. Also 50% of their profits go towards providing toilets for those in need in less wealthy communities.
Currently I am testing ‘Green’ alternatives to commonly used washing up liquids but have yet to come to an evidenced opinion but hope to be able to recommend some alternatives soon.
The above is far from being complete and if you have any green tips I would be delighted to hear from you. Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org looking forward to reading them.
Next time I will be exploringgreen alternatives to personal cleansing products, how to refuse plastic (there are lots of ways to do this) Also tips on recycling. Bye for now, Julie.
FIVE MINUTES TO PRODUCE: FIVE HUNDRED YEARS TO BREAK DOWN AGAIN.
THE PROBLEM OF SINGLE USE PLASTIC
You will no doubt have all heard of five a day in connection with fruit and vegetables but for Frans Timmermanns’, European Commission, vice president, the number five is also a significant number.
To quote him
“Single use plastic takes five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again”.
Here in lies in a single sentence the cost and benefit of this versatile and ubiquitous product.
Lighter and cheaper than metals, they do not rust, strong yet malleable, new uses for plastic are being developed all the time. There is, however, a downside, plastics are not biodegradable. If placed in landfill sites they will still be there many years later. A world without plastic is probably unconceivable in our consumption led modern world; in historical terms however; plastic is the new kid on the block being a 20th Century invention.
From the 1950’s, however, plastics use has become increasingly common. It’s increasing application, over recent years, as a single use product that is causing considerable concern. Our own Green party whose foundations are ecological/ environment advocate the use of renewables... This suggests best practice regarding plastics is to use them as often as possible and then recycle them if you can. It is to to the question of recycling that I now refer.
Waste recycling company, Suez, is helping to clean up the oceans of plastic and then reuse it. Suez and Proctor and Gamble (the makers of head and Shoulders Shampoo) have worked together to create the first recycled shampoo bottle out of plastic found on beaches. Volunteers collect the plastic and send it to recycling experts (Terracycle) who sort it. Suez then turn the plastic into pellets which are used to create the new shampoo bottles. So, in essence, Volunteers, Proctor and Gamble, recycling experts and a waste management company have collaborated to recycle a single use product. Proctor and Gamble say that within a year it will source a quarter of its shampoo bottles from recycled beached plastic.
Veolia, another recycling firm, is turning plastic bottles into flakes. These flakes are used to make fleeces, pipes and garden furniture. Veolux has sorting facilities in Dagenham and Rainham.
Tomra (a company based in Norway), a world leader in reverse vending machines helps to sort plastic bottles and packaging so they can be recycled.
These vending machines are used to deposit old plastic bottles and wrappers for recycling in return for a small cash reward. Tomra has at least 75,000 vending machines in more than 60 countries which collect 35 billion drink containers a year.
The International paper company of Tennessee produces paper cups made of plant materials which are biodegradable.
We then have a two sided relationship with plastics. We find them useful and in many cases necessary. This innovative Product has benefited humankind. The inventive expertise of the 20th Century scientists now needs to be applied in the 21st Century to find ways of reusing/ recycling plastic.
Julie C Stubbins