The truth nobody wants to hear
21 August 2015, 18:48
I think this is probably the most difficult column I’ve ever had to write. So I’m imploring you, dear reader, to bear with me.
(Hey, I am not above begging or even bribing. For realsies – I’m giving out t-shirts and nail polish. Just give me a chance before you click away, okay?)
Okay, here goes: You probably son't often think what hairbrushes, phones, cars, facial scrubs, sunglasses, makeup, packaging, piping, plumbing, insulation, textiles, shower curtains, traffic lights, cushioning and toothpaste have in common, and I can’t say I blame you. I don’t either.
The answer is plastic, and once you start playing this game it becomes pretty scary pretty damn quickly. Nearly everything is made with plastic. And while it’s cheap and versatile and lightweight and malleable and many, many other things that make plastic such a handy material, it takes about a gazillion years (I know, citation needed) to decompose and become non-toxic to the natural world.
But most of us learnt this in primary school already.
Thing is, when I was in primary school you couldn’t recycle anything. I guess technically you could – hell, I think the Germans have been recycling for decades now – but the concept was still foreign here. Sadly, it’s been many years since I was in primary school and still, very few people recycle.
People have various excuses and I’ve heard, and used, all of them. “I don’t use that much plastic,” “My little contribution won’t make a difference, the factories need to change,” “It’s too much of a hassle,” “I don’t know what I can recycle” and so on and so on.
It’s all complete nonsense, of course.
We all use massive amounts of plastic, whether we like it or not. If you think your contribution is negligible to make a difference, why don’t you keep all your plastic for a month and then dump it in your garden and see if you notice the effect? Yes, I concede it is a bit of a hassle, but so is putting on skinny jeans and making risotto and I don’t hear anyone complaining about that. And if you can read, you can figure out what you can recycle as it says so on the bottom of the container.
So, sorry, no dice.
There are many types of plastic that can’t be recycled, so to not recycle PET plastics and other easily recyclable polymers is just thoughtless. I’m sorry if I sound shouty, but once you Google landfills and you go down that miserable rabbit hole there is no turning back. And that is a good thing.
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