Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Christmas Thinking.


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?

CT.


20 comments:

  1. I shop for fruit and veg at our local co-op, but I buy the loose without using the free plastic bags, they are use to me, it's only a small thing but it is a start. We are both aware of the wasteful packaging, I aways carry two cloth shopping bags, again it's a small thing, but if we all made small steps we would together start to make an impact.

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    1. I agree, if everyone made small changes it would add up to a lot. I avoid plastic bags too and take cloth shopping bags with me.

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  2. At this time of year, we are divided in half. Those who 'do' Christmas and those who 'don't' do it, for whatever the reason.
    Blue Planet II was magic, but especially the 'plastic' episode was distressing to the max. Doing what I can to minimise my plastic impact wherever I can.

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    1. Hopefully the program highlighted the problem and many of us will be doing more to cut down now as a result.

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  3. In total agreement with your comments. Awareness raising is key and hopefully Blue Planet has done just that. We as a public need to raise our concerns with supermarkets and shop only at places making an attempt to reduce plastic. I’m going to try and use my farm vegetable shop more. They use brown paper bags. I will do a post in the new year to raise awareness too. Love the sprouts :). B x

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  4. ah, you're singin' my song, beautiful you! these are the same thoughts going through my Thinker...i'm finding myself increasingly distressed over the amount of plastic packaging...and how that seems to be an ongoing trend. The whole 'single-serve' idea that requires food to be doubly wrapped in plastic...tiny yogurt pots, juice boxes etc etc. It's truly gutting.

    So yes...reducing plastic...just plain old reducing consumption is on my agenda for the coming year...

    My gift to B this year is for a day's guided fishing on a local river...he's going to be thrilled and there's zero waste and zero packaging...feeling rather smug about that. :)

    much love to you!! xoxoxo

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  5. It's all about small changes for me. I always take my own shopping bags, we've switched to paper cotton buds, and generally try and reduce other single use plastic as much as possible. Thankfully, I think people are becoming more aware of the issue. X

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  6. A group of us have decided to try and cut down the amount of stuff - particularly fruit and vegetables - that we buy wrapped in plastic -what has happened to places (apart from our very good Friday market) where you can just buy things by the kilo and get them in a paper bag?

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  7. BRILLIANT post CT, I am with you every step of the way. I saw on Twitter the other day a peeled satsuma on a plastic tray covered in plastic film being sold at a supermarket. Words failed me. Shrink wrapped cucumbers annoy me immensely. Along with everything else, mountains and mountains and mountains of it, especially at this time of year. All those rubbish gifts that no-one wants. George Monbiot has written very eloquently about it all. And I loathe the whole Christmas card/wrapping paper thing as well. Straight to landfill with the lot of it. Eco-boost.co has had a couple of good posts lately, one about wrapping presents without using ordinary wrapping paper, and one about no-waste gifts. Let's go on a crusade. CJ xx

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  8. Yes....saying no to plastic will be my mantra. x

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  9. Excellent post. Cloth bags all the way here and I would love to buy my fruit and veggies in brown paper bags; I wonder why supermarkets don't provide them. Is it because it would take longer at the checkout? Not much surely and worth it anyway. Your Christmas presents to each other sound perfect. Have a merry one. xx

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  10. Our local council and waste provider occasionally runs tours which we can go on to see how the recycling facility actually works. I've been meaning to do the tour and then blog about it. Your post is inspiring me to add it to my to do list for sure in 2018. :)

    I do hope that at least some of that stuff I put in the recycling bin does actually get recycled..

    I wonder if you can check with your local council or waste provider and see if they do something similar?

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  11. I have used cloth bags since my son moved to Japan. They are very strict about their garbage and recycling. You will get fined. Too bad they have some plastic bags also.I try to be careful and my recycle bin is always full and the garbage one is not.
    We use our wrapping paper forever. We iron it and reuse. It is a running joke who gets what paper this year. I save the ribbons also. I only bought one roll of paper this year because Granddaughter is here and her Santa Gift will be wrapped in it. I also wrap gifts in nice kitchen towels or material the Japanese way Furoshiki. Two gifts in one.
    Great but sad post today.

    cheers, parsnip

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  12. Well said, everything has got out of hand. Something that annoys me is that car headlights are automatically turned on far too early in my opinion wasting all that petrol. Have a great Christmas x

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  13. I think you're right in that people generally don't need to think about rubbish because they don't see what happens to it. The Blue Planet piece must have shocked loads of viewers because we have become so removed from the consequences of our consumerism. It's a huge issue and a complicated one but if we all thought about the changes we could make and did something, it would make a difference. Great post, CT. I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas xx

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  14. Right with you on this one! I was horrified to buy two avocados in plastic packaging (they had run out of loose ones). It had a really solid tray top and bottom AND a plastic bag covering it to. Totally excessive. I think if we all do a little bit then we really can make a difference and maybe the big supermarkets will listen to us. Maybe one day there will be enough demand for individual grocers to start up again too. Wouldn't that be lovely? xx

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  15. I can understand why some shops sell food in plastic when I see (sorry) so many women of a certain type which I'm not mentioning, but in fairness it has to be said, sorting through every vegetable, squeezing, poking, sniffing. Fortunately we only buy bananas in that particular shop. We go there mainly for non-perishables. More than 90% of our fruit, veg and bread comes from the farmers market where it's a different clientele altogether and everything is taken on trust so there's no scavenging and rooting in the boxes as if there's no tomorrow.

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  16. I follow a zero waste group on FB, and have a long long way to go to zero. Walking on the beach, picking up bits, reminds me to keep trying harder.
    We have a new zero waste Saturday market in our neighbouring suburb. No excuse really.

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  17. We spent a few hours last weekend picking up rubbish - nearly all plastic off the beach. Our Green Fortnight here next year is all about reducing plastics in Bridport. I have complied a directory of plastic free alternatives. I think we have all got used to everything being wrapped in plastic that we don't notice it anymore. My Christmas list has included a few plastic free alternatives! Have a good Christmas with your family and dogs! Sarah x

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  18. One thing that annoys the hell out of me over here in Sweden is the fact that most people are HORRIFIED if you don't pick up the dogs' poop (even if it is somewhere where people NEVER walk) but never says anything about the plastic sweet wrappers that gets thrown on the ground every day. And of course the poop is picked up with millions of plastic bags that never goes away, even though the poop will be gone naturally in no time by comparison...!
    It just doesn't make sense in the long run.

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x