Wednesday, 20 December 2017
It's a very unfestive foggy, dreary sort of day here today. But for all that, the birds are singing their springtime songs, evidently more aware than we are that the light will soon be turning, and one of our toads has woken up and is singing by the greenhouse. Toads have surprisingly soothing voices: I often sit and listen to them serenading the lady toads, and end up being accidentally serenaded myself at the same time.
I popped into Romsey this morning to get a few things. What on earth was I thinking? It was gridlocked. In the end I got a half hour parking slot on the side of the road and then flew about like a mad thing doing what I needed to do. It was not an enjoyable experience. I am thinking that what we haven't got now we can do without. Less is more, no?
I don't like the consumerism of Christmas in general, but for some reason this year in particular I am coming out in hives over it. Watching the Blue Planet episode on all the plastic being dumped in the sea, and seeing with a sinking heart how the majority of weekly rubbish in our bin is plastic wrappers, despite being careful about what we buy, and then reading how many of the recycling plants in China don't recycle the plastic but instead bin it into rivers and the earth really got to me. To that end, when it came down to a simple choice this morning between sprouts wrapped in a plastic bag or the one above from the farm shop clinging to its stalk, I went for the stalky one. It was cheaper too.
I think we really have to challenge ourselves, supermarkets and other providers on packaging. Why, for example, are so many fruits and vegetables wrapped in plastic when they've got skins? Cucumbers and bananas do not need wrapping. And for those that do, surely it's not beyond our capabilities to create something that does the job and then degrades? When I was little, greengrocers had brown paper bags. Can't we get those back?
Wherever I have looked in the shops these past weeks I have been surrounded by plastic. It depresses me beyond measure. I walked the fields this week and collected armfuls of the stuff: scraps from bags used on the farm, bottle lids dropped by walkers, a plastic shopping bag blown on the wind, a crisp packet that had been in the earth for ages and hadn't degraded at all.
We buy things wrapped in plastic then carry them home in even more plastic. I stood behind a woman in a shop this morning and watched her pay 5p for a plastic bag to put her purchases in, even though she had three half-full in her other bag. Even Christmas trees are now casually put through those little machines that wrap them in plastic netting, exactly the sort of thing that traps and kills sea life when it ends up in the sea. It's a one use and throw away product and I doubt many people even stop to think about it, so used have we as a society become to accepting the ubiquitous presence of plastic in our lives, unwrapping items and chucking out the packaging. We said no thank you to the chap who offered to wrap our tree and he looked slightly offended. His response when we explained why we were turning the netting down was that tying the branches with string as they had last year took ages. We just put the tree in the car, drove home and took it out again. It survived. No string nor plastic required.
I've been thinking about it and I think the problem is we're too removed from the rubbish we create - people don't think enough about it because they aren't responsible for disposing it and they don't see where it goes. I count myself in this too- I thought I was being mindful but recently have realised there is a lot more I can do.
So next year I am changing the way we do things. I am going to avoid plastic as much as possible and, in addition to this, challenge all purchases I am tempted to make to see whether or not we really need them. M has prompted me to do this, by a simple remark he made last week about not wanting to consume more than he strictly needed.
I am going to write to our local supermarket and ask them what they are doing about using biodegradable packaging on the products they sell and M is going to contact the council and find out why plastic soup and ice cream pots, for example, aren't recyclable, and why the symbols that designate recyclability are so tiny on packaging you can barely read them.
We'd already agreed not to get each other presents this year, instead we are taking one another out for a nice meal and paying for a race entry for each other for next year. No waste involved and the memories will last longer and be sweeter than any corporeal gift could. I'm not anti presents, in case you thought I'd gone all scrooge. I just wish they didn't come packaged in such horrible material.
Have you had any thoughts about what you'd like to change or do differently next year?