Since the invention of plastic packaging for food in the second half of the 20th Century, the use of plastic has become a normal part of food shopping. The trend for growing and preparing food worldwide for sale in out-of-town supermarkets has meant that the amount of plastic products created and sold is phenomenal. You can easily buy apples from New Zealand in the UK, fresh and tasty having been kept fresh in a clear plastic wrap. The list of products sold in plastic packaging would be far too long to list.
The correct disposal of these plastic products is essential. Our failure as a global society has led to a number of problems. Littering our streets, plastic waste entering the environment and even plastic entering the food chain. Animals and fish that share our earth should not have to suffer from plastic consumption. There are plenty of examples of plastic pollution on TV and online. You may have seen the Blue Planet 2 episode where plastic pollution was shown to be damaging wildlife, or one of the campaigns from Parley or Sky Ocean Rescue.
Ocean scenes and distant beaches seem far away and may feel removed from your day-to-day normal plastic packaging - but unless disposed of correctly these too will only add to the problem. I was recently cycling and came across a pile plastic bottles, a tyre and a plastic ball in a local waterway. This really highlighted to me that litter and pollution effect's us all.
It is everyone's responsibility to minimise littering and pollution. We should do this for each other, the next generation and ourselves.
So what can we do to help?
1) Be mindful of the products we buy and how recyclable the packaging is. Can it be recycled in our local area?
2) Sign a petition to reduce plastic waste produced by supermarket packaging: https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/plastic-free-supermarket-ef
3) Correctly dispose of waste according to your own local arrangements - use the bins provided!
4) Participate in local litter clearing initiatives.
There is a real opportunity for us to change this situation, and companies are looking to change too. Iceland has announced that they are looking to reduce plastic in their own line of products, and some companies are increasing the promotion of recycling on their packaging. The UK is even considering a bottle return system. Whilst in the US last year I saw a bottle and can return system, I believe it could be used effectively in the UK too.
This BBC News article has more information about plastic waste and recycling.
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