I received quite a few texts and emails about the recent Plastic Fantastic? blog post on the wasteful use and disposal of plastics. It seems that the proliferation of plastics could be much more than a danger to sea-life. There were comments about plastics possibly being responsible for all sorts of (human) life threatening ailments. All interesting stuff. So here is the promised follow-up on ‘single use plastics’.
Before we get into this; anyone who knows me will know that I am no eco-warrior – even though (of course) I care about my young son’s future. That does not mean that I can’t spot something totally wasteful when I see it. The so called ‘single use plastics’ definitely fall into that category.
Do Supermarkets Help?
Supermarkets have been charging for plastic bags for some time. It is supposed to encourage people to use the stronger, multiple use bags instead. But supermarkets also allow incalculable numbers of product packaging in single use plastics.
I can remember when supermarkets gave out paper carrier bags. In the USA the supermarkets have always used brown paper bags. It makes perfect sense. Fully recyclable but also bio-degradable. I also have memories of carrying said paper bags of shopping back from the supermarket in the days when we didn’t have a car in the family. You won’t be surprised to hear that it rains a lot where I grew up. I still have not so fond memories of those old paper carrier bags disintegrating in the heavy rain – some hundred metres or so from home. So close and yet so far.
These days of course everyone has a car. And even when they don’t, they take a taxi from the supermarket. Well, almost everyone.
In this day and age, why don’t supermarkets use paper carrier bags like they do in the USA? They could still charge for them. The big difference is that people could discard them with a clear conscience.
Are there other vested interests involved? We, the public, can only do so much. Sometimes most of us cannot be bothered making the effort. Sad but true. It is quite difficult being forced to be an eco-warrior. It is so much easier for the big organisations (like the supermarkets) to make those decisions for us. Which would you pay for if they gave you a choice? A single use plastic, or a paper carrier bag?
Here’s another angle…
Brace yourself if you consider yourself a true Green recycler.
There should really be no such thing as single use plastic. As an absolute minimum it should have two uses. The second use being power station fuel.
I realise that may come as a shock to many. Even complete horror to the green lobbyist types. However, as I write, there are more and more EfW power plants being built in the UK and around the world. That’s Energy from Waste folks! And they burn pretty much anything and everything. Forget all the other arguments about the need for new power stations, carbon emissions and pollution etc…
While this may seem contentious it is an indisputable fact. There are plenty of these power stations already and they are burning all sorts of material. If you think these things go to landfill sites then please tell me; where is all this land that needs filling? EfW stations are popping up everywhere.
My point is this: ‘Single use plastic’ is not necessarily the real problem. It is the discarding of such items that is the bigger issue. That is where the plastics get into the food chain.
On a Lighter Note…
All this talk of green agenda and eco-warriors reminds me of that character from the 90s TV series The Fast Show. “Dave Angel – Eco-Warrior”.
If you fancy a laugh, check these out:
More are of course easy to find on Youtube.