As a teacher of primary aged children I get a daily input of news from Newsround, the kids TV news program that turns 50 next year. When it’s not plugging BBC shit that children don’t care about such as Strictly on Ice and The Masked Belly Dancer, it’s actually a really good show. Newsround presents the views of children well and showcases what issues they find important. Plastic reduction has been all over it.
Plastic is big business and has been at the forefront of environmental news for the past few years, most definitely since that David Attenborough episode that showed the whale calf and the grieving mother. You know the one I mean. Utterly heart-breaking, and if you have no contact with children of this age, you might not be aware of how big an issue this has been to them, and continues to be.
Of course the question of what we do about it is fairly moot. I imagine most of you are reading this already recycle as much as you physically can, probably aren’t quite as frivolous with items as you maybe once were, and definitely do not litter. Who buys straws anyway?
Musician Kenny Anderson, aka King Creosote, used to do litter picks along the coastal paths of North East Fife. According to him, the worst offending item was always the humble cotton bud. This was way before it was a popular lock down activity, at least 15 years ago at a guess. He even roped all his ticket buying public into helping out; a stroke of genius, with zero social media. This wasn’t done for the hashtag.
The success and popularity of current community litter picking groups only highlights the want, need and interest people have in this. These groups do a great job, and we can only hope councils are keeping their end of the bargain up.
So we turn with interest to perhaps one of the biggest users of plastic in our everyday worlds, the supermarkets, and how they are handling this. Some supermarkets here in the UK have attacked this problem. Looking at the plastic reduction league tables, I can’t say that I’m surprised with Waitrose sitting on top, but check out Aldi in second! They were in last place. That’s a business on the up, doing things right, especially in the social media departments regarding their recent caterpillar cake.
Morrison’s dropped down to ninth. But, they are the first supermarket to ban not only plastic bags, but plastic from their bags for life range. They will have an entirely paper based alternative and is what they call a ‘significant milestone’ in their reduction of unnecessary plastics.
Of course does a reduction in plastic have a knock on effect of more trees needing to be cut down in order to provide a more natural product? I’m not really into that idea either.
However I am all for the reuse and refill idea currently being trialled at some Asda’s in England. Health food shops are used to having these kinds of things, massive tubs of cereals and nuts. You would think it would be fairly straightforward to make a switch to washing powders or pastas, and we all love a pick n’ mix.
In 2018 all supermarkets signed the UK Plastics Pact which aims to reduce plastic waste by bringing together businesses across the food supply chain. All promised to hit targets by 2025. This involves a lot of creative thinking on their part in the redesign of packaging, and ensuring all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable. It is prudent to remember Great British public, that up until fairly recently even all your tea bags had plastics in them. Steps are being taken to reduce this now, though not yet across all brands.
One alternative of course is to grow your own fresh food as much as you can. We’re just about to harvest our potato crop for this year and I’m excited to find out if they are tastier than last years. Allotments have never been in more demand and we should be creating more of these opportunities.
And amongst this maelstrom of the entirely human problem of carrying messages to the car, we present to you our own Bag for Victory, for all your fruit and vegetable needs. Inspired equally by the World War II propaganda posters Dig For Victory (a sentiment that we could do with resurrecting) and death metal album covers, our idea for the Bag for Victory was brought to life by Scottish artist Stu Allan. The bags are 100% certified organic cotton, are completely vegan, of highest quality and limited in number.
Grab yours while you still can here and say ta ta to plastics. Purchasing fresh plastic free products and recycling plastic waste really will make a difference to the amount of waste created. We are moving in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go.
Currently listening to Eternal Hails, the new album by Darkthrone.