Every piece of plastic ever made still exists today.
That’s about 8.3 billion metric tons of the stuff, and it’s all somewhere. 6.2 billion tons of it have been thrown away, with 9% recycled, 12% incinerated, and everything else – a massive 4.9 billion metric tons – is either in landfill or floating loose somewhere in the environment.
I like to think of myself as someone who cares about the environment. I work as an Environmental Consultant, so telling other people how to be more green is pretty familiar to me. I try to do my bit in my own life, too. I have a 100% renewable energy tariff at home, I check my food miles and try to buy seasonal vegetables, I drive a small-engined petrol car, and I’m not always jetting off around the world (let’s pretend for now that those last two are for environmental, rather than financial, reasons).
But I think that often when I weigh up caring with convenience, it’s convenience that tends to win out in my hectic life. And if I – someone who really cares about the fate of our shared home – fail to do anything about it, how can I expect our whole selfish society to change? Doctor, heal thyself.
So, from 14th February to 29th March 2018 I will avoid purchasing and using, as far as I am able, all plastics. The key enemy will be single-use plastics. Those little devils that are useful for a couple of days and then hang about on a tip somewhere for the next 500 years.
My prediction is that this will be both expensive and time-consuming, and that I’m going to regret it almost immediately. You, dear reader, may be the only thing keeping me to my word.
My real hope is that a (close to) plastic-free life is possible, and my secret wish is that I will come out of the whole thing ready to carry on for another 40 days… and another…
We shall see.