So … plastic, for some years now I’ve had an uneasy feeling that started as just a vague nuisance, distant and intermittent, like the occasional hum of an over familiar mosquito on a warm summer’s eve. The nuisance began to emerge with the arrival of our first child. As any mother will testify, by the time they are but a year old, a child will change the landscape of a lounge from an orderly, organised space in coordinating neutrals of the day, into a screaming, brash, disarray of shiny, moulded, and largely unwanted plastic shapes. At the time there were two things that concerned me about my new décor a) the mess and b) the thought that so much money had been spent on this gaudy collage and yet in 6 months or so it would end up in the bin or a charity shop. The wastefulness of modern consumerism had started to consume me.
Now sufficient time has passed and my children have grown I find that clean lines and coordinated displays have reappeared in my house and yet that vague nuisance humming in my subconscious has also grown, a loud invasive drone has replaced the hum and persists until I look it straight in the eye.
More than ten years have passed since my installation of wall to wall moulded plastic, but that landscape haunts me still, only now instead of my lounge, that gaudy collage carpets some of the once most beautiful beaches of the world. Areas of outstanding natural beauty are now strangled by and tethered to modern consumerism by fastenings made of entangled polythene bags.
Although in the UK we are shamefully behind some countries in terms of dealing with the problem of plastic, (Kenya has enforced a complete ban on plastic, with fines and prison sentences doled out to sellers and manufacturers) there is plenty we can do as individuals to help gather momentum for a serious change.
I’ve thought for some months about how I can really make a change to the amount of plastic that I contribute to either landfills or worse still the ocean, and of course concede that a single action will not suffice. A new mind set is necessary, a constant conscious effort at reducing and reusing plastic, perhaps in this way we can make the difference, and we must make the difference.
In the Garden Room wherever possible, glass and aluminium is used in place of plastic, any plastics that are still in use are recyclable, and plastic purchases will be avoided wherever possible. In the home too we are waging war on plastic. Supermarket shops are being exchanged for trips to the green grocers and markets, where by and large, products are not pre-packaged (usually in the most environmentally costly, single use plastics). Clingfilm has been replaced by foil & paper, we will no longer buy unnecessary, unrecyclable plastics like plastic picnic ware, drinking straws, etc, (much to the groans of small children) I pledge to exert will when faced with shiny, pretty new things to purchase with each incoming season, and always ask myself whether it’s necessary and what is the cost? More plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, as predicted by Ellen MacArthur in a report submitted to the World Economic Forum? So, a change in mind set, a constant, conscious effort, and so it begins…