THE PLASTIC PROBLEM
In 2016 one million plastic bottles were sold around the world every minute. Plastic as we know it today has only really existed for around 70 years, and an all 8bn tonnes of the stuff that has ever been produced is still on this Earth in some form or other today.
Over 10m tonnes of plastic enter the sea every year. 13 of the top 20 countries contributing to ocean plastic are Asian nations, but that doesn’t mean the UK is without its problems. The Marine Conservation Society estimated they found over 700 pieces of plastic rubbish per 100m in their 2017 great British Beach Clean. And a study by the University of Plymouth found plastic was found in a third of UK-caught fish, including cod, haddock, mackerel and shellfish.
Thankfully there is a sea-change happening, in part, due to the Blue Planet effect. The documentary brought into sharp focus the impact of single use plastic on our oceans, urging us all to make a difference to our plastic consumption. The rise of the UK’s zero waste shop population has David Attenborough to thank!
WHY RECYCLING ISN’t the Answer
We cannot simply recycle our way out of the plastic pollution wave because we are using too much plastic in the first place. The multitude and variety of plastic available today means the recycling process is too complex to be commercially viable. Plastic food pouches, for example, often consist of two types of plastic rendering them un-recyclable unless they are entirely separated and exposed to a complex heating process before being manufactured – a procedure which requires a vast amount of energy and financial resource; virgin plastics are infinitely more affordable.
The dominant cultural paradigm has concentrated excessively upon supporting and encouraging recycling rather than reducing waste, serving as a psychological insurance policy for the public. Those who feel insured against the damage of plastics are potentially likely to increase their consumption.
WHAT IS ZERO WASTE?
Zero waste is the philosophy of eliminating waste sent to landfill. The concept of zero waste symbolises a circular economy, so that products are designed to be long lasting and then, at the end of their useful life, repurposed closing the waste loop and utilising the 5 Rs (see below). The UK generated 203 million tonnes of landfill waste in 2014, which simply is not sustainable.
True zero waste can be difficult to achieve in the fast paced and demanding lives we lead. At Clean Earth Pantry, we aren’t peddling an unachievable goal, but we do believe in striving to eliminate all unnecessary and wasteful single-use materials.
You can start your journey to a zero waste lifestyle by replacing some of your most common, single-use items and shop using your own containers and filling them with as much or as little as you need. Once you start we promise you'll start noticing more and more small changes you can make, and you will have a positive impact.
THE 5 R's To ZERO WASTE
In this order...
Refuse what you don’t need. If we don’t buy it, they won’t make it. Refuse single use items, because every plastic bag refused is a positive change.
Reduce what you do need by bringing less into your life, always shop with a list!
Reuse everything you can; incorporate your own reusable items into everyday life; cloth shopping bags, reusable water bottles and handkerchiefs are an easy way to start.
Recycle everything that’s reached the end of its life and that can’t be refused, reduced or reused.
Rot the rest, by starting your own compost heap at home.