Effort builds to reduce plastic use

Great Pacific garbage patch: Anyone needing encouragement to reduce their plastic use need look no further than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — located between Hawaii and California, it is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world. Picture supplied

Why does July have to be so virtuous, someone asked on Facebook. Campaigns this month include “Dry July” and “Plastic Free July”. Before you roll your eyes and turn the page — wait, we’re not asking you to stop drinking . . . just make sure it is not in a single-use disposable cup. Sophie Rishworth reports . . .

First off it is important to address guilt. Plastic was touted as the miracle material, we all embraced it. We did not know the trouble it was going to cause. Now we do. That’s all Plastic Free July is saying — let’s start trying to reduce the plastic we buy so that it does not end up in the landfill.

Since June 1, only plastic packaging with a 1 or a 2 in the triangle on the bottom of the product can be recycled in Tairawhiti. This was implemented nationwide on different dates. Basically it is because there is no market and no way to recylce the plastic numbered 3 to 7.

Unfortunately many common items like Olivani, margarine and spreadbale butters come in containers that can no longer be recycled. So a product that lasts only a matter of days comes in a plastic container that will last forever in a landfill.
Many people are saying the only way to change this is to use our consumer power and not buy items labelled with a 3 to a 7 in the triangle on the bottom. This way it will put pressure on companies to use plastic that can be recycled.

There is one exception to the number 1 to 2 rule and that is milk bottle tops. They are mostly numbered 2 but some are numbered between 3 to 7. The collectors of the recycling from Waste Management do not have time to check every milk bottle lid so none of them get recycled. People are collecting them, and some child care centres use them for crafts.

The other thing is to make sure your recycling is clean.

MORE PLASTIC THAN FISH IN 30 YEARS

By 2050, in a business-as-usual scenario there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight), and every year until then it is estimated eight million tonnes of plastic* will travel from the land to the sea.

Some tips for your plastic reduction journey

Eight million tonnes is equivalent to a rubbish truck dumping a load of plastic every minute into the sea, or the weight of two Empire State buildings every month, or the weight of 1.6 million elephants into the oceans each year — choose what ever comparison works for you, it is a very weighty problem.

* The figure eight million tonnes of plastic a year comes from a University of Georgia study by the US National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis working group. Their study, reported in the February 13 edition of the journal Science, found between 4.8 million and 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastic entered the ocean in 2010 from people living within 50 kilometres of the coastline. That year, a total of 275 million metric tonnes of plastic waste was generated in those 192 coastal countries.

HOW PEOPLE ARE CHANGING

One Mangapapa mum said last week, for the first time, she wrote up a meal plan, went online and ordered her weekly shop at Countdown. Christine Boyce said by shopping online she was able to get only what she needed — right down to the last zucchini — so there was less waste. Plus, she also asked if there could be no plastic used in the packaging — ie no plastic bags for the fruit and bulk bin items.

Mrs Boyce said she was pleasantly surprised when she collected her order to see everything packaged in brown paper bags — the fruit, the sultanas — just like she had asked. It was convenient, and cut the waste from her household.

She also makes her own skincare items and cleaning products. For the vinegar, baking soda and citric acid needed for DIY cleaning products, she’s off to Big Al’s.

Gisborne woman Anita Zwart has taken waste reduction to a whole new level. She and her partner put out one rubbish bag a month — and that’s up from the one rubbish bag every few months when she was living on her own.

Another Mangapapa Mum Mel Berry has been making her own laundry liquid (see recipe at right).

“We just need everyone attempting a few things until it becomes a habit, then adding a few more things until that then becomes a habit too. Collectively that makes a difference.”

But Mrs Berry is honest about her plastic reduction journey — it is not always easy.

“Zero waste seems like such an unachievable lifestyle term (though I know people do do it). It’s kind of like when I hear ‘zero tolerance’, it feels as if there’s no leeway for mistakes, forgetful or full-on times.

“So I like the term minimising waste. To me it sounds like making something smaller, attempting things and something that’s more achievable for me.

“I’d love to get to a place where my household is zero waste but my brain can’t handle all those tasks at the moment. So I’ll keep continuing on my journey of minimising waste and take the little things I’m doing every day as a step forward in the right direction.”

MAKE YOUR OWN LAUNDRY LIQUID

Makes 15 litres
1/3 cup finely grated Sunlight soap
1/3 cup washing soda crystals
Pour into 20L bucket
Add 15L tepid rain water
Pour into bottles
Add a drop or two of essential oil — if you would like a scent.

FIVE PRACTICAL WAYS TO PREVENT PLASTIC ENTERING THE OCEAN

• Use paper mushroom bags to transport loose fruit from supermarkets and grocers instead of plastic.

• Buy a butter dish so you can purchase butter wrapped in greaseproof paper rather than in cartons. Likewise choose cheese which is wrapped in paper instead of plastic.

• Leave packaging at the till. Make excess packaging a problem for supermarkets.

• Swap single-use cigarette lighters for matches. Environmentalists are frequently finding plastic cigarette lighters in the stomachs of dolphins, whales and birds.

• Ditch plastic bottles and drink water from the tap. Buy a steel bottle to transport tap water. Metal carriers also stop chemicals from plastic leaching into water.

Why does July have to be so virtuous, someone asked on Facebook. Campaigns this month include “Dry July” and “Plastic Free July”. Before you roll your eyes and turn the page — wait, we’re not asking you to stop drinking . . . just make sure it is not in a single-use disposable cup. Sophie Rishworth reports . . .

First off it is important to address guilt. Plastic was touted as the miracle material, we all embraced it. We did not know the trouble it was going to cause. Now we do. That’s all Plastic Free July is saying — let’s start trying to reduce the plastic we buy so that it does not end up in the landfill.

Since June 1, only plastic packaging with a 1 or a 2 in the triangle on the bottom of the product can be recycled in Tairawhiti. This was implemented nationwide on different dates. Basically it is because there is no market and no way to recylce the plastic numbered 3 to 7.

Unfortunately many common items like Olivani, margarine and spreadbale butters come in containers that can no longer be recycled. So a product that lasts only a matter of days comes in a plastic container that will last forever in a landfill.
Many people are saying the only way to change this is to use our consumer power and not buy items labelled with a 3 to a 7 in the triangle on the bottom. This way it will put pressure on companies to use plastic that can be recycled.

There is one exception to the number 1 to 2 rule and that is milk bottle tops. They are mostly numbered 2 but some are numbered between 3 to 7. The collectors of the recycling from Waste Management do not have time to check every milk bottle lid so none of them get recycled. People are collecting them, and some child care centres use them for crafts.

The other thing is to make sure your recycling is clean.

MORE PLASTIC THAN FISH IN 30 YEARS

By 2050, in a business-as-usual scenario there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight), and every year until then it is estimated eight million tonnes of plastic* will travel from the land to the sea.

Some tips for your plastic reduction journey

Eight million tonnes is equivalent to a rubbish truck dumping a load of plastic every minute into the sea, or the weight of two Empire State buildings every month, or the weight of 1.6 million elephants into the oceans each year — choose what ever comparison works for you, it is a very weighty problem.

* The figure eight million tonnes of plastic a year comes from a University of Georgia study by the US National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis working group. Their study, reported in the February 13 edition of the journal Science, found between 4.8 million and 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastic entered the ocean in 2010 from people living within 50 kilometres of the coastline. That year, a total of 275 million metric tonnes of plastic waste was generated in those 192 coastal countries.

HOW PEOPLE ARE CHANGING

One Mangapapa mum said last week, for the first time, she wrote up a meal plan, went online and ordered her weekly shop at Countdown. Christine Boyce said by shopping online she was able to get only what she needed — right down to the last zucchini — so there was less waste. Plus, she also asked if there could be no plastic used in the packaging — ie no plastic bags for the fruit and bulk bin items.

Mrs Boyce said she was pleasantly surprised when she collected her order to see everything packaged in brown paper bags — the fruit, the sultanas — just like she had asked. It was convenient, and cut the waste from her household.

She also makes her own skincare items and cleaning products. For the vinegar, baking soda and citric acid needed for DIY cleaning products, she’s off to Big Al’s.

Gisborne woman Anita Zwart has taken waste reduction to a whole new level. She and her partner put out one rubbish bag a month — and that’s up from the one rubbish bag every few months when she was living on her own.

Another Mangapapa Mum Mel Berry has been making her own laundry liquid (see recipe at right).

“We just need everyone attempting a few things until it becomes a habit, then adding a few more things until that then becomes a habit too. Collectively that makes a difference.”

But Mrs Berry is honest about her plastic reduction journey — it is not always easy.

“Zero waste seems like such an unachievable lifestyle term (though I know people do do it). It’s kind of like when I hear ‘zero tolerance’, it feels as if there’s no leeway for mistakes, forgetful or full-on times.

“So I like the term minimising waste. To me it sounds like making something smaller, attempting things and something that’s more achievable for me.

“I’d love to get to a place where my household is zero waste but my brain can’t handle all those tasks at the moment. So I’ll keep continuing on my journey of minimising waste and take the little things I’m doing every day as a step forward in the right direction.”

MAKE YOUR OWN LAUNDRY LIQUID

Makes 15 litres
1/3 cup finely grated Sunlight soap
1/3 cup washing soda crystals
Pour into 20L bucket
Add 15L tepid rain water
Pour into bottles
Add a drop or two of essential oil — if you would like a scent.

FIVE PRACTICAL WAYS TO PREVENT PLASTIC ENTERING THE OCEAN

• Use paper mushroom bags to transport loose fruit from supermarkets and grocers instead of plastic.

• Buy a butter dish so you can purchase butter wrapped in greaseproof paper rather than in cartons. Likewise choose cheese which is wrapped in paper instead of plastic.

• Leave packaging at the till. Make excess packaging a problem for supermarkets.

• Swap single-use cigarette lighters for matches. Environmentalists are frequently finding plastic cigarette lighters in the stomachs of dolphins, whales and birds.

• Ditch plastic bottles and drink water from the tap. Buy a steel bottle to transport tap water. Metal carriers also stop chemicals from plastic leaching into water.

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Stuart Moriarty-Patten - 15 days ago
All worthy stuff, and to be encouraged, but is it enough? Plastics demand is rising and is forecast to rise for the foreseeable future, and it is this prospect of rising plastics demand that is leading the major oil companies to invest heavily in new petroleum-chemical facilities, particularly in light of the decline in oil demand from the transportation sector.

Petrochemicals for use in plastic-making is expected to account for more than 50 percent of oil demand growth globally by 2050, increasing this demand by 7 million barrels per day.

Even if single-use plastic products are removed from the equation, enough demand for plastics (even electric cars "need plastics") will remain to drive the consumption of oil. BP projects petrochemicals will come to account for as much as 70 percent of the growth in oil demand by 2040.

The reality is if we are seriously going to meet the challenges faced as a result of climate collapse, then we need to expropriate the oil companies and place them under democratic control.

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