I swam into a piece of plastic waste today. There are often bits in the surf but this was way off the beach and an unusual event especially given the miles of open water swimming I do.
Plastic waste is everywhere, look around. David Attenborough in the Blue Planet 2 series has undoubtedly brought to a wider audience the plight of the oceans, but it is something that some of us have been aware of and battling with for years. Martin Dorey established the #2minutebeachclean some years ago and that provided a banner under which those of us who take an empty bag each time we go to the beach and inevitably return with it full could muster.
But are some people taking it too far with their ‘plastic free’ lifestyle claims? No-one is plastic free. You may go to the fruit stall and buy only loose goods and put them into your cloth bag, but how do you think they got to the store? They were picked in the fields into plastic crates, shipped in plastic crates, delivered to the shop in plastic crates and very possibly along the way wrapped in disposable plastic covers. That’s burying your head in the sand not living plastic free. And please, please, stop taking photos on your phone (mostly plastic) and blogging on your computer (mostly plastic) and posting on the internet (down plastic phone cables). Think it through!
Plastic is essential to the world in which we live though we do not value it sufficiently and should be more responsible especially over ‘single use plastic’. However, the aim should not be to stop using single use plastics as, for example, hypodermic syringes are ‘single use plastics’ and for very good reason. Many ‘single use’ plastics offer significant benefits to our lifestyle.
If the fiscal value of plastic was adjusted in line with the practical value then plastic that is intended to be thrown away would decline.
Nevertheless we should stop throwing plastic away. There is a finite market for recycled plastic at present but only because people want shiny looks like new items and will not accept recycled which may not have the same presentation. If my PC was made of recycled plastic would it work any less well?
I am a fanatical beach cleaner, but it is like closing the stable door after the horse bolted. It would be far better to stop it getting in the sea / river / hedgerow / environment as a whole in the first place.