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What can *I* do ?

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default What can *I* do ?

Post by Chilli-head on 2nd January 2018, 12:13 pm

Mulling on Dandelion's thread It's now more difficult to dispose of plastic waste, and particularly a comment from Flobear:

Flobear wrote:For me, legislation is the only way to go. Most people will not be bothered enough to do anything about it otherwise.

A while ago, there seemed to be a real momentum of individuals trying to do their bit to be green in whatever way they could, without waiting on governments to act.  But it seems to me that once you have done the fairly painless things, got a bag for life, changed your bulbs, got into the habit of considering energy ratings when buying appliances, etc, it becomes quite hard to sustain enthusiasm.  It starts to involve hard work reusing, making do and mend etc. It starts to involve doing without - air travel, latest phone, convenience goods etc.  And that wouldn't be so bad, if it weren't for the feeling of gross unfairness and futility that comes from trying ones best, whilst seeing others who never hold back, throw their takeaway wrappers from the car window, and can't even take the time to sort their recycling.  (Or warring people pounding buildings to ever finer rubble, but that's another story)

So legislation must have a place. Some (many, most ?) will never voluntarily think of the environment, and certainly not put it above their pleasure in consuming.  

But I don't think we can rely just on legislation. I still mull on what can I do, especially about the plastics.  And how far should we be willing to go voluntarily in terms of increased effort, and doing without ?  Might make a good topic for discussuion I thought, then realised we already have a place for it here !
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default Re: What can *I* do ?

Post by Chilli-head on 2nd January 2018, 12:19 pm

Replying to myself - I notice that, despite our local domestic recycling collecting all manner of stuff, not all of it is actually re-cycled, but quite a lot gets incinerated anyway. Apparently all those black plastic veg trays can't be sorted optically because the recycling codes can't be machine read on the black background. Surely the industry could solve this ?

In the mean time, I'll save the best ones for sowing micro-herbs in a couple of months time in the greenhouse.
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Post by FloBear on 3rd January 2018, 12:01 pm

There have been recycling discussions on local radio recently and I realised how different it is across the border in Hampshire. We can put most things out for the recycling collections here, yet 7 miles up the road there is quite a lot that the authority won't take.
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Post by Dandelion on 3rd January 2018, 4:55 pm

There has been talk of bringing in legislation to bring all local authorities together with the same rules for recycling. I would like to see it become illegal to package items in packaging which is not recyclable - I'm thinking particularly of plastic.
But back to what *I* can do - it does exercise my mind, as if you're working and juggling all your family responsibilities, you do have to take short cuts, which may involve a less sustainable lifestyle. I don't have time (or the physical ability) to shop at local shops, which are mainly closing when I get back from work, and which don't have any parking nearby for people who can't walk. We do have a shop on the way back from school, which has a lovely cafe and also sells local fruit, veg, organic bread etc, but at very silly prices. It seems that zero waste is a complete lifestyle commitment, and as my life becomes more complicated, I can feel myself drifting in the other direction (though hopefully not too far!) One dilemma I've thought about - toothbrushes. It freaks me out to think of how many abandoned toothbrushes must lie in landfill. I re-use them or cleaning jobs, but that only puts off throwing them away for a while. I know you can but bamboo brushes - but my dentist insists that I need to use an electric toothbrush!! I do buy wooden nail brushes (which have cactus bristles, and can be disposed of on the stove when they've worn out) but I'm still buying plastic toothbrushes.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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default Re: What can *I* do ?

Post by freebird on 4th January 2018, 9:51 am

Chilli-head wrote:  And how far should we be willing to go voluntarily in terms of increased effort, and doing without ?

Should? I think we should do as much as humanly possible towards sustainability in everything, both collectively and as individuals. I think legislation is one way, but education is probably more important. Unfortunately I do believe that the most likely force for radical change will come from either natural or man-made disaster, as people generally won't alter their behaviour unless they feel/are threatened.

I have pretty much stopped agonising about other people's behaviour. Is that realism or giving up?

I try to live lightly, but frequently fall short of my own expectations. I often become exasperated by the cleaning, sorting and storing of recyclable rubbish and am sometimes tempted just to bin the lot. Guilt, and a need to feel I am at least trying, prevents me from doing so (most of the time!).

Overall though, it isn't just about ethical waste disposal is it. It is about changing people's expectations and desires, away from the must-have attitude to something kinder and less damaging.
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Post by FloBear on 4th January 2018, 4:21 pm

I think you're right not to agonise about other people's behaviour if there's nothing you can do to change it. I get fed up with Mr Bear grumbling on about the litter along roadsides or pavements. I don't like it either but unless I can pick it up myself, I don't worry myself about it.
I also agree that unless something happens to make people feel very threatened they won't change their behaviour.
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default Re: What can *I* do ?

Post by Chilli-head on 6th January 2018, 5:10 pm

freebird wrote:
Chilli-head wrote:  And how far should we be willing to go voluntarily in terms of increased effort, and doing without ?

Should? I think we should do as much as humanly possible towards sustainability in everything, both collectively and as individuals.

Well yes, in principle. But there is always more you could take upon yourself. Where to draw the line ?

I could voluntarily litter pick roadside verges. I already pick up recyclable bottles and cans when pushing my wheelbarrow back from the lotty.

I do still use air travel. Perhaps I should do without, even though everyone else around me uses it ?

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Post by freebird on 6th January 2018, 7:01 pm

Perhaps the question should have been How much are we prepared/willing to do.

As for me, yes there is much, much more I could, certainly should, do. I try to minimise my own waste, but rarely go as far as picking up other people's - dog poo bags (empty ones!) being a notable exception. Always finding them where they have come out someone's pocket, so I pick them up and they get used for our dog.
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Post by Ploshkin on 6th January 2018, 9:57 pm

I'm a bit late to the party here, we've been alternately broadbandless and computerless since before Christmas and I am currently relying on an old, possessed kindle.

I'm hoping that China now refusing to take others plastic waste will make people wake up and ask questions about what precisely has been happening to the stuff they diligently recycle.  Shipping it around the world is hardly very green.  It seems that so long as councils meet their targets for collection nobody gives a jot what happens to it afterwards no matter how wasteful.  If councils had to take responsibility for the outcome of the collected waste things might change.

These days there is excellent, clean burning technology and it makes far more sense for waste to be burnt for electricity generation if it cannot be efficiently sorted and recycled.  The Isle of Man has had a waste burning plant outside Douglas since the 1970s.  One has quite recently been built near Cardiff.  It just needs a bit of education to make people understand that it can be done in a non polluting way.

Also, in countries where people have to pay by weight for their waste to be collected they leave packaging behind in supermarkets and shops.  The businesses then put pressure on the manufacturers to cut down on unnecessary packaging.  I have had a number of things recently where the size of the packaging far exceeds the size of the contents - presumably to make gullible people think they're getting something bigger that they are.

I feel that once again we are being made to feel responsible or guilty about something that is impossible for us as individuals to really influence but those who have the power to influence things are never taken to task.  (Just like any slow down of the economy is our fault because we don't buy enough stuff but if we buy too much stuff then we're blamed for something else)
....... and down off my soap box
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Post by Dandelion on 7th January 2018, 10:20 pm

Well said Ploshkin great

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Hairyloon on 27th February 2018, 1:32 am

Lady on Facebook wrote:OK so here is what happened at the supermarket: asked for paper bags in the vegetable section. None in sight so the assistant spent about five minutes looking and found some mushroom paper bags hidden under a crate and gave me those. They were deep and narrow but fine for small veg: I asked for bigger ones and he said they had none so I used lots of these, weighted them and put the printed lables on and that was fine at checkout. At the deli counter I asked for my meat and cheese to be wrapped in paper: the assistnat looked fed up but went and found some waxed paper. But then she said she had to weight on plastic because the paper changed the weight. Then she tried to put it in a plastic bag. I said no, and requested a paper bag that I could see beside the rotisserie couonter. She said she could use those if I wished but they were lined with plastic so it came to the same thing. I requested the manager who came and was very nice and said he quite agreed me. He said management was working on this problem but were finding it difficult. I said I had my own waxed and greaseproof paper. He said that Health and Safety made it impossible for them to allow external articles into their hygiene area but he did not wish to suggest that my home was not clean, merely that their counters and machinery were deep cleaned and their wrapping materials were monitored. He suggested I write to head office to register my concerns, but that he knew that I was not alone in my worries and it was company policy to try to change them as soon as possible. So no win for me then, but at least I tried. Now to write some letters.

Is it coincidence that I saw that just before I saw an email reminder from this forum, with a link to this thread?
Probably, but let us pretend anyway that it is some kind of myffic sign...

I am not convinced about legislation. In any case, that is out of our hands and our parliament has all hands full looking for its own arse, so don't hold your breath.

What we need to do is get an organised programme under way to properly publicise how well the various supermarkets are doing in this respect: make it properly competitive.
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Post by Hairyloon on 27th February 2018, 1:36 am

Ploshkin wrote:These days there is excellent, clean burning technology and it makes far more sense for waste to be burnt for electricity generation if it cannot be efficiently sorted and recycled.  The Isle of Man has had a waste burning plant outside Douglas since the 1970s.  One has quite recently been built near Cardiff.  It just needs a bit of education to make people understand that it can be done in a non polluting way.

Burning should be a last resort: I'm told it takes 12 times as much energy to produce plastic as you can retrieve from burning it, and the real problem with waste to energy schemes is that it allows the authority to claim that the stuff has been recycled.
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Post by Chilli-head on 27th February 2018, 11:59 am

That's interesting. I read that there is an argument for a move away from incineration on the grounds that it is still burning fossil fuel (and if HL is right, very inefficiently !) - and towards burial as a form of carbon capture. That sounds rather like coming full circle back to landfill. I thought the problem there was we were running out of big holes in the ground to fill.

I think we all would agree that reducing plastic use is the best way. And that we shouldn't just sit back and rely on politicians to legislate. But I'm not entirely sure that the approach of "Lady on Facebook" is not a bit dramatic for me. Pressure is needed, but you can wield it by selection of what you buy, without having to be militant about it in the store. The manager is the store probably doesn't make those sort of decisions, and the people that do probably are balancing all sorts of considerations - cost and environmental impact of alternatives, their fitness for purpose and compliance with hygiene regulations etc. Writing to head office is probably a good suggestion if you feel strongly.
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