It's a complicated picture

Situations are rarely simple 

At Swizzle and friends, one of our aims is to live in way that helps the planet but how to do this? After all, it is a complicated picture.

When Sir David Attenborough highlighted the issue of plastic in the oceans, there was a collective intake of breath. There was astonishment that such a thing existed as a slick of plastic in the seas of the earth.

And so the Blue Planet effect… well, it took effect.

Many people were galvanised into doing something about this appalling situation. But what? As individuals, what could we do?

What can we do? The cucumber example

Simple, cut down on our use of plastic, but of course that is easier said than done.

As individuals, we are not in control of the packaging that surrounds the products we want to buy.

Wrapping cucumbers in plastic extends shelf life but that just adds to the complicated picture. Photo by Scott Sanker on Unsplash

For example, if you want to buy a cucumber, there is a fair chance it will have been shrink wrapped in a plastic sleeve. The aim of this is to help prolong its shelf life, which, in itself is a good thing. The cucumber remains saleable for the supermarket for longer, which helps that business to continue functioning, therefore continuing to employ people and also to supply those in need of cucumbers.

It also means that those with limited time can buy enough cucumbers to see them through until the next time they can go shopping for that particular salad vegetable (or is it a fruit?).

But then comes in the complicated picture. It’s wrapped in plastic. What do you do with the sleeve after it has finished its job of maintaining shelf life? It’s not really recyclable so it has to be disposed of.

It could be added to an eco-brick to at least limit its harm to the environment. It could be put in the bin and end up in an incinerator, which could produce energy, but that could lead to pollutants being released into the atmosphere, although filters do limit this.

Or it could end up in landfill, but that is definitely not such a good option.

So, the alternative is to not wrap the cucumber in plastic, allow it to have a shorter shelf life, which would mean shopping for the produce more frequently and put up with not having them available all year round. But this may not be popular, when he have got used to the convenience of having cucumbers available, whenever we want them.

The milk bottle example

On another matter, there are those who said that we should go back to delivering milk in glass bottles as they were reused. This would obviously save on plastic use which is a good thing, right?

Using glass bottles for milk can provide a solution but it can also add to the complicated picture. Photo by Adrienne Leonard on Unsplash

Well, yes it is, but glass is heavier to transport, so more fuel is involved to move the heavier loads of milk. That’s more fossil fuels being used up, with the pollution involved in that.

There is the energy involved in making the bottles, which presumably needs more raw materials, but they can also be reused, unless they get damaged, in which case, they could be recycled.

It is all so complicated and there is no easy solution, with so many things interconnected with each other.

But something that is clear is doing nothing is not an option.

Some simple steps

At Swizzle and friends, we do offer the chance to do some simple things to try to help the situation by buying reusable items for a range of situations.

Click here to go to our range of products.

And to read more about how complicated things have become, take a look at this article on the BBC website

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