grub, green issues and gays

Plastic not-so-fantastic

Plastic not-so-fantastic

Now then. Up until this point, LOTL has been a place for me to dump my veggie recipes and indulge my love of breakfast foods. This will not change, because goddammit, I love to eat, and talk about eating, and cook things that I will later eat. But I’d also like to expand a bit more into the “land” part of the blog’s name, and write about sustainability, the environment, and what we can do to live lightly on the planet.

I remember my Dad once saying that he would be a happy man if, after he died, he left absolutely no trace on this Earth. It’s something that’s resonated with me deeply, and I’d like to go one further – I’d like to improve the world a little bit, upon my departure.

You’d have to be living under a rock to not notice the news stories revolving around single-use plastics – the damage they do to the environment. both in tiny microbead form, and in large, turtle-strangling form. The UK has recently imposed a 5p tax on carrier bags, which has gone some way to reduce their usage, but we still need to do more. Today, the EU voted to ban single-use plastics altogether – a move that will surely help cut down on waste.

There are steps we can take at home to cut down on plastic use, too. Small changes every day can really make a difference!

Cut down on plastic packaging at the supermarket


The individually-wrapped bananas are taking it a step too far, perhaps. But there is a lot you can do to reduce the amount of plastic you take home from the shops, especially since almost a third of supermarket packaging is not widely recyclable. The main culprits are mixed packaging, for example a cake box that comprises of plastic film and a cardboard box, or plastic wrap – things you’d assume are recyclable, are often not. Black plastic, used commonly in meat and mushroom trays, is not recyclable. Stretchy plastic, the kind used in bread bags, for example, can be recycled at the same place as plastic bags – often at the supermarkets themselves. Try to look for food in minimal packaging, and for veggies, use paper bags if you can. There are shops springing up all over the UK that allow you to bring your own packaging and fill them up, but at the moment these seem to be restricted to dry produce, such as pasta and cereals.

Pack a reusable bottle and coffee cup


There are HUNDREDS of companies waiting to part you with your hard-earned cash and provide you with a fancy water bottle, or a coffee cup that keeps your drink warm until the end of time. Single-use cups are the worst, because the plastic lining is difficult to separate from the card, making them awful to recycle without specialised equipment. This one is a no-brainer, so here’s a guide from The Independent, showing you a few fancy options for water bottles. I have a Keepcup for coffee – it’s well-designed, easy to wash, and has a rubber grip around the cup that can be removed and a carabiner added – great for festivals.

Drastically change the wasteful society we live in


Let’s get down to the point. Our lifestyles produce a lot of waste. Packaging is just the start of the problem – fishing produces 46% of the plastic waste in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, the huge mass of plastic floating about in the ocean. Much of this is comprised of netting, cut free or abandoned during fishing. People often think of fish as a “sustainable meat”, but that’s simply not true when we consider the impact on the ocean. A great incentive to go veggie! Thinking every day about what we throw away can make a difference – we should all give it a go.

Plastics are also not the only impact we are having on our planet – climate change is something we should be paying more attention to, but that’s a topic for another post.

If you have any ways of cutting down on single-use plastics you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments!

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