One of the many reasons I started this blog was to be positive. For some people, me included, environmental issues are overwhelming sometimes. This post isn’t about the problems, instead I want to share with you some of the work that I’ve been doing to mitigate the problems in my immediate environment.
I shall outline what I have done, and I hope that I can inspire you to do something similar. I’m a strong believer in personal, individual actions creating positive change on a large scale if we all do our part.
It’s in our immediate environment, in car parks, on streets, in bushes and even next to bins. Rubbish! Keep Britain Tidy has an ongoing campaign the “Great British Spring Clean”, this runs for a month and I organised some clean ups where I work. I’m hoping for one clean-up per week for the month, and I’m feeling positive about it because I had a total of 9 volunteers at the first event.
In just over half an hour we collected 5 bags of rubbish, and this was just on our own site. The usual suspects of food packaging and wrappers, as well as plastic bags and bottles were predominately found. Throughout the month it would be fantastic to take groups further afield and really make a positive impact on our local area.
It’s so important for us as individuals to do our part in cleaning up our streets, parks, etc. We as individuals may not have littered, but it is our responsibility as a part of nature to tidy up and to prevent harm from coming to wildlife.
My office recycles around 50% of its waste. I would love to be a part of increasing this. Not long after I started, Walkers partnered up with TerraCycle to launch their free crisps packets recycling scheme. In under three months we have sent over 2,000 crisps packets to be recycled.
With support from colleagues I was able to boost this initiative so that the entire building now has access to recycling points for crisps packets. Each week I collect all the ‘donations’ and check the weight. We are now averaging just three weeks to get 2kg worth of empty crisps packets. This is a completely free scheme. I simply collect the crisps packets and print a free courier label via TerraCycle and the box is collected.
As well as keeping the crisps packets out of the general waste, for every 2kg shipment we get TerraCycle points which can then be redeemed as financial donations to a chosen charity.
In another effort to reduce our general waste (which is anything that can’t be recycled on site) we are making ecobricks. This started as something we could do with our office plastic. (Most plastic packaging cannot be recycled; sweet wrappers, cling film, food packaging).
Now, not only do we put office plastic waste in our office ecobricks, but colleagues also bring in their completed eco bricks from home. I have set up an ecobrick station near my desk where people can weigh the ecobricks so that we can make sure we are getting them to the target weight. We are collecting for a number of different schemes, these all vary on where you live and who you know. Have a Google.
See previous posts on ecobricks for more info
Nb. Bricking it Bristol recommends the below weights.
My next aim is to help my office be a Plastic Free Business. I am a regional rep for Surfers Against Sewage and something they are doing is “Plastic Free Communities”.
Recycling is not the solution. Single use items that have become prominent in our throw away society are not sustainable. Using resources and energy to produce something that we use for such a short amount of time, such as a disposable coffee cup or a take away sandwich wrapper is not sustainable.
It is not just a problem of these single use items being the most common form of litter (because they are cheap and disposable). Using anything once, or for a short amount of time is careless, unreasonable and unsustainable. Particularly plastic. Plastic is a hard wearing, long lasting, strong material. It is an excellent material, but only when used responsibly. Producing hundreds of thousands of single use items that are to be used once out of this material is utterly irresponsible and illogical. We’ve all seen photos and footage by now of birds and marine life being strangled or dying of starvation because of our plastic waste in their environment. We know it lasts a long time, that’s why it became such a successful material. And, it’s cheap! It is cheaper to use virgin plastic than it is to use recycled plastic. This has got to stop.
It is our responsibility, each and every one of us. The choices we make everyday affect so much.
Therefore, I am on a mission to REDUCE the amount of singe use plastic at my office. I managed to get single use plastic cutlery swapped for wooden cutlery in the canteen. (The catering company insisted they need to supply a ‘take away’ option). As for all other single use items, I am in the progress of getting rid of them!… watch this space. (eg. coffee cups, water fountain cups…)
We can all Reduce…
Say no to single use items, such as disposable coffee cups. (Use your own mug).
We can all Reuse…
Use what we already own, such as carrier bags and water bottles.
And we can all Recycle.
Check your local recycling, but most councils now accept a lot… see below my local council’s latest flyer as an example.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Jack Johnson wrote a song about it…
***** “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
If you’re going to the market to buy some juice
You’ve got to bring your own bags and you learn to reduce your waste
And if your brother or your sister’s got some cool clothes
You could try them on before you buy some more of those
Reuse, we’ve got to learn to reuse
And if the first two R’s don’t work out
And if you’ve got to make some trash
Don’t throw it out
Recycle, we’ve got to learn to recycle,
We’ve got to learn to
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” ******