The psychological problem with plastic

I had a bit of a revelation the other day. I can’t imagine I’m the first person to think of it, but it struck me as significant at the time.

I was at work, and we had some leftover birthday cake in the office. Some people wanted to take a few slices home, but didn’t have any containers with them. “I’ve got a spare container you can borrow” I said, offering a colleague my metal lunchbox (pictured above, minus the lunch). “I can’t take that” they replied, “it’s far too nice to borrow!”

Searching further in my desk drawer I found a plastic box, the type that takeaway food comes in. “That’s perfect”, my colleague said, “I’ll bring it back tomorrow.”

And that’s when it hit me – the problem with plastic isn’t just that it’s disposable, but that it somehow intrinsically embodies the quality of ‘disposable’-ness as well. Plastic represents something that doesn’t require care or preservation – it looks as though it was made to be discarded. Continue reading “The psychological problem with plastic”

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Zero Waste Week: Kitchen and Food Swaps

The kitchen, the whole kitchen, and nothing but the kitchen (except the beginnings of the dining room and lounge)
The kitchen, the whole kitchen, and nothing but the kitchen (except the beginnings of the dining room and lounge)

In my second post for Zero Waste Week, we’re going into the kitchen! Renting in rather-pricey North London means that our kitchen is on what estate agents optimistically refer to as the ‘cosy’ side. On one hand, this is good for zero waste living as there’s very little space for over-shopping, either in the cupboards or the fridge (not that it’s doesn’t happen sometimes!). On the other, batch cooking is curtailed by a single freezer shelf and buying numerous large items in bulk is out.

Here are some of the good habits I’ve managed to develop on my ongoing zero waste journey:

Tea

Loose tea is available to fill my own bags with from the ever-wonderful Earth Natural Foods in Kentish Town, where everything comes in beautiful self-serve glass jars. This week, WestyWrites also mentioned on Twitter that a number of Whittard’s branches have refill options, where she reports that they were happy to refill her own container.

If you don’t mind the possibility of a small amount of plastic in your teabags (who knew?! Polythene Pam at Plastic is Rubbish, that’s who), but don’t want the horrible crinkly unrecyclable plastic-y foil and the extra layer of unrecyclable plastic round the outside as per a normal box of tea, there is another option! Continue reading “Zero Waste Week: Kitchen and Food Swaps”

Zero Waste Week: Bathroom Swaps

This year’s Zero Waste Week runs from 7th-13th September and the theme is ‘reuse’. Anyone and everyone can get involved, just go along to www.zerowasteweek.co.uk and make your pledge! My pledge is to purchase and use nothing that goes to landfill for the week. Self-promo moment – you’ll also be seeing a post from me on the Zero Waste Week website about some of my antics at work very soon!

Zero Waste Week is the invention of Rachelle Strauss, and you can read more about her journey and how she started this initiative on her website and in this article she wrote for the Guardian last year.

I started going down the zero waste path a couple of years ago, and for me it’s an ongoing journey – there are so many areas of our lives where waste just seems to magically appear! The decision to not use resources, or use resources that don’t create excess packaging, has to be just that – a decision. It doesn’t happen by accident. Our society set up at the moment is based around convenience – coffee to go, sandwiches to grab at lunch, and even if you do have the time to slow down you’re likely to be confronted by supermarket pre-packed vegetables, ready meals and a million special offers on food wrapped in plastic (my personal bugbear being multi-pack crisps – non-recyclable plastic wrapped in extra non-recyclable plastic just to sell us more crisps in one go!). Continue reading “Zero Waste Week: Bathroom Swaps”

Slovenia: Green, blue and green. Part 2 – sustainability

Ljubljana_panorama
Panorama across Ljubljana

So, in my last post I waxed lyrical about some of the many, many joys of swimming in this gorgeous country and its amazing countryside. However, I was also really impressed with how green, clean and sustainability-minded it also seems to be.

At home in London, I can often spot on my way to work what people had for breakfast, or for dinner the night before, because the packaging and unwanted remnants of fast food are ‘handily’ left out on the street for other passers-by to see. I think a lot of people are aware that Britain has a serious litter problem, but I’d kind of got used to it. Visiting Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, has suddenly made me very aware of it again!

The one bit of rubbish we saw touring round the Slovenian countryside
Rubbish seen in Slovenia: item one of two

The place is pretty much spotless Continue reading “Slovenia: Green, blue and green. Part 2 – sustainability”