2019 is the year the world finally wakes up to it’s absurd waste of plastic and what we really need is the big supermarkets onside.
You’re on your way home from work and you pop into the supermarket, just because you need ‘a few bits’ to make dinner. A few tomatoes, a piece of fish and maybe a little treat for dessert, oh hey a box of chocolates reduced to £2 and a couple of mangoes for £1. Amazing.
A few days later, you go to take out your recycling bin (because of course you do have a recycling bin don’t you) and you realise it is full of plastic trays.
Hang on, you think, didn’t I read somewhere that plastic trays are actually not recyclable?
So what? I need to take these out of the recycling bin and pop them in the actual bin? And then they’ll get dumped in the sea for a turtle to choke on?
Yes, we’re moving towards the third decade of the 21st century and we are still packaging products in single serving plastic. Destined for landfill, or worse, the sea.
Now if you’re one of those people who don’t care, or who don’t think it matters I implore you to pay attention to this bit.
Every year, something between 5 and 13 million tons of plastic waste enter the sea.
EVERY YEAR…. UP TO 13 MILLION TONS OF PLASTIC.
In the sea???
What the hell is wrong with people? What, we think the sea just recycles the plastic? Maybe it goes into the water cycle and falls as fresh rain on the hills of the Pennines where farmers can pluck the cellophane from the trees and use it to pack their cauliflowers.
Here’s the problem dear reader. It’s not you. I hope you do your bit and you have a reusable cup, you don’t wrap your sandwich in cellophane, you don’t buy bottled water any more and you put the plastic that you do throw out into the green bin.
Of course you do because you’re a sensible human being. Right?
Mr Tesco (Dave Lewis), Mr Sainsburys (Mike Coupe), Mr Lidl (Jesper Højer), Mr Morrisons (Dave Potts) and Mr Asda (Roger Burnley)… Gentlemen (and notice that it is all gentlemen), it is you guys who have the power to get rid of single use plastic once and for all.
And you know what? It won’t take three years, two years.. No, you guys can do it by next month if you want.
Lets take for example the fact that most coffee shops now offer recyclable cups as standard. That happened pretty damn quick.
In fact places like Costa and Starbucks suddenly started offering compostable cups probably within a few months of the whole waste cup furore really coming to the fore. Like, couldn’t they have done it sooner if it was that easy?
But no. They were fine with people buying millions of single serving cups of coffee a day and binning them because, you know, convenience.
Here is my solution for the current supermarket obsession with single serving plastic trays and cellophane wraps.
Ditch the plastic.
Sell hessian or recycled fibre bags for vegetables, and if customers don’t bring their own then charge them.
For meat, fish and dairy sell clay, glass or recyclable plastic pots and trays that customers are supposed to bring back again. Like they used to do in the days before we had single serving plastic and we didn’t have an actual island of plastic in the ocean.
And you my friend, dear reader.
As the supermarkets aren’t doing their bit quite yet, you can do your bit.
Bring back all the unrecyclable plastic to your local supermarket and put it in the plastic bag recycling.
When possible, buy your meat, fish, bread, fruit and veg and any other product that is normally wrapped in plastic in a specialist shop (ya know, greengrocers, butchers etc).
My resolution from last year to not fly Ryanair was too easy (they’re so bad and they had a disastrous 2018). So this year I’m going a bit more globally focused.
I’m already trying to do my bit, but so far a bit shaky. The aim is to be doing this properly by the end of the year. So join me and help me ditch the plastic!
And if you work for a supermarket, please, make it easier for me.