Anyone watching Glastonbury this weekend will have been heartened to see Sir David Attenborough take to the stage and congratulate the festival organisers for their decision to ban single use plastic throughout the weekend.
Warm fuzzy feelings soon dissipate when you see the aftermath
You might have been forgiven for feeling slightly heartened and fuzzy around the edges. However, at the end of the jamboree the tons of waste left by revelers, was truly appalling. Almost 2000 volunteers emptied 15 000 bins twice per day but it’s not enough to contain the mountain of waste. It’s obvious that a complete life style adjustment is required. Or is the plastic throwaway culture just a symptom of consumerism fed by industry?
Can individuals really make any impact or are we wasting our time?
I have been pondering these issues for some time and wrote about plastics a couple of weeks ago. I make no apology by returning again to the subject. No matter what I do as an individual I am in danger of feeling like a salmon swimming upstream. I switch from shower gel to soap to save plastic. My soap bar is packaged in a cardboard box, all good. However, when I open the box the bar is encased in a plastic bag. Body Shop no longer refills plastic containers; that strikes me as very strange seeing as they were eco pioneers.
Pay more, buy less
Morrisons has trumpeted the fact it is introducing plastic free fruit and veg aisles in 60 of their stores; this is great. Yet it appears we pay more when fresh produce is not wrapped and it also takes three uses of a paper bag to justify the high production costs. OK, Morrisons says that switching in this way will reduce plastic use by 156 tonnes annually. But will it be enough?
Are we in danger of being hypocritical?
But these changes do not address the culture we find ourselves in. Returning to Glastonbury we see that many people buy a tent and then abandon it at the end of the festival. Apparently 1 in 3 tents has been left behind. Companies have introduced “recyclable” tents made of cardboard but surely all tents are reusable? Or at least they were when I was growing up? The irony is one of these super convenient pop up tents has sufficient plastic in it to make almost 90 plastic bottles or almost 900 crisp packets. Guess what, tent fabric cannot be recycled.
Is our current lifestyle still sustainable?
So, what happened that we became seduced by the concept of disposable coffee cups, sandwich boxes, pizza packages and plastic bottles? I am almost certain there will be a consumer backlash eventually. After all we can’t all be made to feel guilty the whole time can we? There has to be a massive shift in philosophy and behaviour by everyone if we are to tackle this issue.
Has the consumer backlash already started?
A colleague, for example has stopped buying crisps because currently bags cannot be recycled easily. These are the ultimate in disposable. We pay over the odds for 25g of potato and then dump the packaging. Walkers have said they are yet to find a viable alternative to maintain freshness. Is this just a tiny example of consumer backlash at work.
Creative, agile thinking is what the Food Industry needs
I think the Food Industry needs to work with consumers; it is a symbiotic relationship after all. I feel that if we can undertake space exploration we can invent ourselves out of this damaging situation surely? We need creative and agile thinking l to change behaviours, perceptions and the seemingly unhalting desire for growth.
What is the future?
I thought we might be moving towards a tipping point but having watched the great Glastonbury clean up I am not so sure. What options do you think there are? What are you doing to reduce plastic, single use consumption and waste? Do you blame the Food Industry or do you think we should be working together to effect change? I’d be interested to hear your ideas, opinions and tips.
If any of this has given you food for thought then perhaps it’s worth having a chat about your potential options. If this is of interest then do give me a call for a no obligation discussion on +44 7793 526078. On the other hand you can Click Here to schedule an appointment directly with me, to suit your needs.