A personal view from Marianne Gibbs (South Broadland branch)
Most readers of this newsletter will be aware of plastic pollution, and most of us make sure that we take our own bags with us when we go shopping, but there is much more that we could do. The trouble is, its not always easy and sometimes it can be more expensive.
Look round the average house and the amount of products made from plastic is mind blowing. I did a survey of my own home shortly after attending a Women’s Institute conference on plastic waste in London; what I learnt there was frightening. The plastic waste problem isn’t just about single use carrier bags and water bottles but even our laundry contributes to plastic pollution.
Apparently the hotter the water the more synthetic fibres are released; these fibres go into our drains and eventually finish up in the sea. I’d never heard of this but having had it pointed out my main concern was finding out what could be done about it.
We cannot avoid washing clothes but most of us wash them too often, sometimes after just one wearing. By hanging them up to air each time they are worn we can cut down on the amount of times they are washed. This won’t apply to every garment of course, but a lot of ‘at home’ clothes could be given another turn round the block before going in the laundry basket.
The other thing that could help would be to wash at lower temperatures. Washing at 30 degrees drastically cuts fibre emission as does using a shorter wash cycle. I have been doing this ever since attending the conference and my clothes come out of the machine just as clean as they have ever been. It has the benefit of saving on my electricity and water bills too.
I thought I would share with you some of the other things I have been doing in order to cut down on my use of plastic. Firstly I have tried to avoid buying products in plastic containers so, – as well as buying milk from my milk man I also get my orange juice from him because it comes in a glass bottle which I rinse out and return to him for cleaning and refilling. Yes, this is more expensive than buying from a supermarket but the convenience of having these things delivered to my doorstep far out weighs any cost involved.
I now buy my sparkling water in glass bottles. Again more expensive, but there is the reward of the feel good factor, plus I take the empty bottle to my village hall and put it in their bottle bank thus helping to raise funds for the hall.
I do take small plastic bottles of water out with me, but I don’t throw them away after just one use. I take them home empty and refill them several times before parting with them into the re-cycling bin.
Moving forward, when my plastic kettle gives up the ghost I shall replace it with a stainless steel one, indeed I intend making every effort to replace plastic with other materials whenever I can. That’s not just a New Years Resolution but also a lifetime commitment.
Manufacturers and supermarkets have already seen the trend of consumers being more environmentally concerned and are looking at alternatives to plastic. They need our encouragement and the best way to do that is to buy non-plastic products where they are available.
Every little helps, so if lots of people did a little, it would soon turn into a lot and the problem would become less overwhelming.