No, I’m not talking about tripping over a plastic aubergine on the living room floor, or breaking up toddler fights over the play kitchen at playgroup. Although that’s an everyday challenge I face too.
There’s been palpable shock-waves on social media from people who watched the first episode of BBC’s The War on Plastic last week, presented by Anita Rani and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, particularly in relation to the truth about what’s happening to some of our kerbside recycling. A recycling bag from Essex finding its way into the Malaysian jungle is a staggeringly shocking thing.
We’re always been avid recyclers and I still believe there’s a place for recycling, with an improved understanding of the end-to-end process and taking full responsibility for our own waste. Exporting it to developing countries who don’t even have their own kerbside recycling (I had a reference for this in relation to Malaysia somewhere and now I can’t find it – when I do, I will post it!) is definitely not the answer. We can no longer be smugly assured that our yoghurt pots aren’t in fact ending up in the ocean.
Until we have some assurance about the destination of our recycling (post coming on this soon where I will be badgering Greenwich Council with FOI requests to find out the destinations of what I diligently put in my blue bin), I think more and more people are coming to the conclusion that our priority must be to reduce. This is hard work for us well-trained 21st century consumers, programmed as we are to buy more and more stuff and expect ready-chopped mangoes to be available all year round.
So I’m setting us a challenge at home to reduce, reduce, reduce and I will be posting more about this over the next few weeks.
We are very lucky to have an amazing green grocer nearby, and I have managed an almost plastic-free shop today:
My son gets particularly excited, bellowing “bananananash” across the shop and insisting on paying himself with the “beep beep”. So it’s pretty fun for all concerned. But I am at home all week and can take my time and shop most days for fresh produce. It’s more expensive than shrink-wrapped supermarket veg, and we can afford it mainly because we hardly eat any meat now. Some of it has still travelled a long way (no bananananash grown in Kent, as far as I know) and we definitely can’t afford to only buy organic.
So none of this stuff is simple. Shopping locally doesn’t feel that radical to me, and isn’t possible for everyone, but it’s enabling us to reduce our plastic waste massively.
It’s #meatfreeMonday tonight, so if you’re super lucky, I might share a photo of my lentil ragu later. No Instagram though, promise. Never going to happen.