Part 3 of my Great Plastics Project takes me back to compare my plastics use in April 2022 with 2021, as reported in this post.
And… it’s time for #30DaysWild again, but I haven’t signed up for it because… why? Unless I do a great deal more blogging and social media posts about it, I just do every day wild, in some way.
Maybe I am more proactive when #30DaysWild is on, and it does remind me to do the year-on-year surveys for my own interest, like an insect survey of the garden. So I may report on that later in the month.
Plastics Survey part 3
One thing I got my act together in time was reviewing progress on plastics. I didn’t bother saving it, like the previous year, but I weighed everything I didn’t recycle, re-use or compost.
I recycle all the plastic that says it’s recyclable.
Especially ‘recycle at larger stores’.
The label for recycle at larger stores (supermarkets) is not restricted to own brand items. As mentioned last year, most cereal packet plastic inners go there.
Recently I have been preferentially buying things in bags that have that label. And at home, since I now get my supermarket top-up delivered (saves me impulse buying), I even test bags to see if I think they should be recycled by the supermarket (especially own brand items). I’m handing the problem back to the supermarkets to solve.
Everything the Council says it can recycle through the kerbside scheme.
And then I put in all the pots, trays and things that don’t get listed as recyclable on their chart but should plus anything else I think they could. That includes those pesky things like vegetable trays from the supermarkets. Many have gone to a corn or bamboo recycleable/compostable tray, but the rest usually have a plastic triangle mark with their plastic form. The council should recycle them.
And… the biggie! When I went to the Household Waste Centre at Christmas, I asked one of the operators what they did with things in the recycle bins that weren’t recycled. His reply “we hoick them out and they go in the Energy From Waste feed.”
Energy from Waste
Oh, big sigh. EFW is definitely a relatively green disposal route. I know a lot of people are horrified by burning waste, but as long as it’s in a proper EFW plant, it has several benefits. Even in 2000, the annual emissions from these plants (controlled by law – scrubbers in the chimneys) were about 1000th of the average backyard barbecue. A good EFW scheme also provides district heating and/or district electricity. Heating is more efficient than driving turbines for electricity. Reference? My specialist subject in my second degree was pollution management. Our group went over this in fine detail!
So, through May I weighed everything I didn’t reuse, compost or recycle. Everything destined for the black bin. I even brought a small bag back from my week’s holiday to sort and classify!
Total weight of non-recycled plastic for May was 125gms. That compares with 458 gms of items not recycled last year.
Of the companies that I couldn’t class as recyclable last year, including the Terracycle ones (Terracycle appears to be having problems, in this area, at least) I have made some assumptions based on the plastic. Most are going back to the supermarkets. I’ve put the Kallo bags in the compost heap to see what happens. Two of my guinea pig feed suppliers have acted, one with the recycle at larger stores label, and the other has moved to a paper/compostable bag. I might have to tackle the largest ‘recommended by 92% of vets’ brand.
Progress, but am I using less?
Good question. Without having compared total plastic used, I can’t tell. But, as well as using Oddbox for my weekly fruit & veg, I have started using a local bulk food and dry goods supplier, one of many springing up all over the country, or maybe becoming more visible as the plastics issue gains momentum.
The thing here is to buy non-plastic goods as you replace ‘worn out’ plastic ones. I have some lovely washable cotton pads for make-up, and for washing guinea pig parts. Biggles (my guinea pig who had many medical problems and needed his waste separately bagged because his meds would damage the compost) loved them. I think they were much softer on his snotty nose–and the other end. Use, toss in washing machine for next time. I also got new nail brushes, as my plastic ones had collapsed from sitting on a sunlit windowsill. This month I tried the toilet block bombs–kept in a jar in the shop, brought home in a paper bag. They seem to do the job with no residue, and no plastic bottle. And of course, many dry foods, pasta to herbs and spices, and liquids from blackcurrant juice to laundry soap.
See their FB post on the cost comparison.
I think I’ve made progress, and some of the companies I use have also made progress.
I can continue to buy consumables with no plastic waste involved.
It is probably worth doing a full review next year, to compare like with like to see how I’m really doing.
Spreading the word, especially about shops like the Spinney 53, is probably the most important thing we can do if we’ve solved our own lifestyle effects.